Powers, Duties and Functions of the President of India
- The President of the Republic of India is the head of state of India and the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
- The President is indirectly elected by an electoral college comprising the Parliament of India (both houses) and the Legislative Assemblies of each of India’s states and territories, who themselves are all directly elected.
- Although the Article 53 of the Constitution of India states that the President can exercise his powers directly or by subordinate authority, with few exceptions, all of the executive powers vested in the President are, in practice, exercised by the Prime Minister with the help of the Council of Ministers. The President is bound by the constitution to act on the advice of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as long as the advice is not violating the constitution.
Eligibility of a Presidential Candidate
- Article 58 of the Indian Constitution says that the presidential candidate must:
- Be a citizen of India.
- Have completed the age of thirty-five years.
- Be qualified for elections as a member of the Lok Sabha.
- Not hold any office of profit under the Union or any State government, or any local or other authority.
Duties of the President of India
- The primary duty of the President is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the law of India as made part of his oath (Article 60 of Indian constitution).
- The President is the common head of all independent constitutional entities.
- All his actions, recommendations (Article 3, Article 111, Article 274, etc.) and supervisory powers (Article 74(2), Article 78 c, Article 108, Article 111, etc.) over the executive and legislative entities of India shall be used in accordance to uphold the constitution.
- There is no bar on the actions of the President to contest in the court of law.
Executive Functions of the President of India
- Head of the Union:
- The President is at the head of the Union Executive.
- all executive powers are exercised in his name.
- The executive power of the Union to be exercised by the President is extended to the matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws and to conclude treaty and agreement.
- As head of the executive, the President appoints the Governors of States, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Auditor General of India and many other high officials, such as the members of Finance Commission, Election commission, Union Public commission etc.
- Appointment of the Prime Minister and other Ministers:
- The President also appoints the Prime Minister and with his advice the other Ministers of the Union Council of Ministers.
- But here too, as in all other appointments, the President can seldom use his discretion.
- He is, ordinarily, duty-bound to summon the leader of the political party which secures an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha to become the Prime Minister and form the Ministry.
- He does enjoy some discretionary powers in the matter only under exceptional circumstances.
- When no single political party wins a clear absolute majority and, as a result, no Council of Ministers can be formed without a coalition of parties the President can exercise his discretion judiciously in appointing the Prime Minister.
- Can ask to prove Majority in Lok Sabha:
- Union Council of Ministers normally remains in office for five years, unless dissolved earlier for any reason.
- The President must be satisfied that the Council of Ministers enjoys the confidence of the majority of the Lok Sabha.
- In case of any doubt he can ask the Council of Ministers to prove its majority in the Lok Sabha.
- The President can also dissolve the Union Council of Ministers in accordance with Article 75(2) of the constitution, if he finds that the Ministry does not enjoy the support of the majorities in the Lok Sabha.
- Supreme Commander:
- As head of State, the President is the supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of India and is entitled to declare war or conclude a treaty.
Legislative Powers and Functions of the President of India
- President is a part of the Parliament:
- The Union Legislature or Parliament consists of the President and two Houses of Parliament.
- The President is, therefore, an integral part of Union Legislature.
- He shall summon from time to time, either separately or jointly, the Houses of Parliament.
- The President can prorogue the Houses or either House of Parliament and, if necessary, can dissolve the lower Chamber of Parliament, the Lok Sabha.
- Summons and Addresses Parliament:
- The President may address either or both House of Parliament.
- In such address, at the first session after general election to the Lok Sabha and at beginning of a joint session of Parliament each year, he may place the reasons for summoning it.
- Apart from addressing Parliament, the President may also, in case of necessities, send messages to either House, or to both Houses [Article 86(2)].
- The President nominates a number of members in both Houses.
- The chief purpose of the nomination is to ensure adequate representation in Parliament of all sections of population which many not always be achieved through elections.
- Power in respect of Bills:
- The President has certain functions in respect of passing of a Bill.
- A bill passed by both the Houses of Parliament requires his assent in order to become an Act.
- He may give his assent to a bill or can withhold assent when a bill, after getting approved in both the Houses, is placed before the President.
- But, if Parliament, acting on President’s refusal to assent to a bill, passes it again with or without amendment, for the second time and presents it to the President for his approval, the President shall not withhold his assent there from under Article 111. In other words, it becomes obligatory upon him to give his assent.
Financial Powers and Functions of the President of India
- The President causes the annual budget of the Union Government to be laid before Parliament every year. No proposal for spending money or raising revenues for purposes of government can be introduced in Parliament without previous permission of the President.
Emergency Powers of the President of India
- The constitution of India empowers the President to proclaim three kinds of Emergencies:
- National Emergency (Art. 352);
- Emergency for failure of Constitutional Machinery in a State (Art. 356);
- Financial Emergency (Art. 360)