Describe the powers of the President of India. Or What are the powers of the President of India? Discuss.
Ans. Powers of the President of India.—The powers of the President of India may be discussed under the following heads :
(1) Executive Powers.—The executive power of the Union of India vests in the President and he shall exercise this power directly or through the officers subordinate to him. (Article 53) The expression “officers subordinate to him” includes ministers also [Emperor v. Srinath, AIR 1945 PC 1631. The President has power to appoint Prime Minister and other ministers, governors, Attorney-General, etc. and they hold their offices during the pleasure of the President.
2. Power of appointment.—The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister [Article 75 (i)].
The President appoints
The Attorney-General of India [Article 76];
Judges of the Supreme Court (Article 124);
High Court Judges (Article 217);
Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (Article 148);
Governors of States (Article 155);
Finance Commission (Article 280);
Members of the Union Public Service Commission including the Chairman (Article 316);
Joint Public Service Commission for a group of States (Article 316);
Commission to investigate on the condition of Backward Classes (Article 340);
Commission to report on the Administration of Scheduled Areas (Article 339);
Special Officers for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Article 338);
Commission and Committee of Parliament on Official Language (Article 341).
[Under Article 11, Section 2 the President of the U.S.A. also has been vested with similar powers.].
3. Military powers.—The supreme command of the Defence Forces of Union shall be vested in him and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law and Parliament will have power to confer this authority or authorities other than the President [Article 53 (2)].
Similar powers are given to the President of America under Sections I and 2, Article II of the American Constitution. The executive power of the Union and the Supreme Command of the Defence Forces are vested in the President. He has power to remove his ministers, the Governors, the Attorney-General, Judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court, etc. He has powers to declare war and peace. He is, however, not only in fact but also in law, only a constitutional head for the power vested in him is to be exercised according to the Constitution and to be regulated by law. The President is not above the Houses of Parliament for the latter can by law confer some of its functions on other authorities as well.
4. Power to grant pardons.—The President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted for any offence—
(a) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial;
(b) in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive powers of the Union extends;
(c) in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death. (Article 72(1)1 The object of conferring this “judicial” power on the President is to correct possible judicial errors, and cases of individual hardship due to stringent law. For no human system of judicial administration can be free from imperfectipps. In this respect the President has four powers (i) pardon, (ii) commutation, iii) remission, and (iv) reprieve. A pardon completely absolves the offender from all sentences and punishments and puts him in the same position as if he had never committed the offence, Commulation means exchange of one thing for another, e.g., rigorous imprisonment for simple imprisonment. Remission means reduction of the amount of sentence without changing its character, e.g., sentences of three years may be remitted to two years. Respite means awarding a lesser punishment on some special grounds, e.g., pregnancy of a woman offender. Reprieve means temporary suspension of death sentences, e.g., pending or proceeding for pardon or commutation. In Kellar Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1989 SC 653, the Supreme Court declined to spell out any guideline for the exercise of this power which is a part of Constitutional scheme and held that ifre order of the President is not subject to judicial review. In Epurn Sudhakar v. Government ofA, R, AIR 2006 SC 3385, the Apex Court observed that the pard,oning powers of the President under Article 72 and the Governors under Article 161 is subject to judicial review The Court laid down that the pardoning power exercised on the ground of political reasons, caste and religious considerations would amount to violation of the Constitution and its validity may be examined by the Court. The President of the U.S.A. has been given similar power under Article II, Section 2 of the American Constitution.
5. Diplomatic powers.—The President appoints Ambassadors, Ministers and Consuls to other countries and receives in return corresponding foreign diplomatic representatives. He represents India in the international sphere and can negotiate treaties subject to ratification by Parliament which has the power to legislate on all matters which bring India into relations with foreign countries.
6. Powers to summon and address House of Parliament.—
(i) The President shall from time to time—(a) summon the Houses or either House to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit; (b) prorogue the House; (c) dissolve the House of the Parliament. [Article 86 (1)].
(ii) The President may, from time to time, address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose requires the attendance of members. [Article 86 (2)].
(iii) The President may send message to either House of Parliament whether with respect to a Bill then pending in Parliament, or otherwise, Ad a House to which any message is so sent shall, with all convenient despatch, consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration. [Article 86 (3)].
(iv) At the commencement of the first session after each General Election to the House of the People and the commencement of the first session °teach year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the cause of its summons. [Article 87].
7. Powers to give assent to Bills, etc.—When a bill has been passed by the Houses of Parliament it shall be presented to the President and the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom. But the President may as soon as possible after the presentation to him of a Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill, to the Houses with a message requesting that they will reconsider the Bill or any specified provision thereof and, in particular, will consider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message, and when a Bill is so returned, the Houses shall reconsider the Bit+ accordingly, and if the Bill is passed again by the Houses with or without amendment and presented to the President for assent the President shall not withhold assent therefrom. [Article 1 11(1)].
No Bill for the formation of a new State or the re-distribution of the boundaries of any State shall be introduced in either Houses of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President. [Article 3]
8. Ordinance-making power of the President.—The Ordinance making power of the President may be branded as the most important legislative power. Article 123 of the Constitution empowers the President to promulgate Ordinances when (1) both Houses of Parliament are not in session, and (2) he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action. Such Ordinance shall have the same force and effect as an Act of the Parliament. An Ordinance is a temporary measure for such duration only as Parliament is not in session and it expires six weeks after the reassemble of the Parliament. It may even expire earlier if resolutions against it are passed by both Houses of Parliament. The President may withdraw any Ordinance issued by him. [Article 123].
9. Emergency powers of the President.—If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, (i) by war, external aggression or armed rebellion (Article 352), or (ii) failure of Constitutional machinery in a State (Article 356), or (iii) the President can proclaim financial emergency if a situation arises whereby the financial stability of India is threatened, [Article 360(1)]. Where the Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, nothing in Article 19 shall restrict the power of the State to make any law or to take any executive action, and the President may, by order, declare that the rights to move any Court for the enforcement of such of the rights conferred by Part HI [except Articles 20 and 21], as may be mentioned in the order and all proceedings pending in any Court for the enforcement of the rights so mentioned shall remain suspended for the period during which the proclamation is in force of such shorter period as may be specified in the order. [Articles 352, 358 and 359]