The Union executive consists of the President, the Prime minister and the Council of ministers.
Powers and functions of The President of India
The President is the head of the Indian State. He is the first citizen of India and acts as the symbol of unity, integrity and solidarity of the nation. Article 52 of our constitution provides for a President of India .
Article53 (1) says that the executive power of the union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either by directly or through officers subordinate to him in the constitution.
Article 53(2) declares the President as the supreme commander of the defence forces and exercise of his power would be regulated by law.
Executive Powers of President: The Constitution of India vests the executive powers of the Union in the President.
- He/She appoints the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party or group of parties having majority in the lower house, the Lok Sabha.
- He/She also appoints other members of the Council of Ministers on the recommendations of the Prime Minister.
- All executive actions of the Union must be expressed to be taken in the name of the President.
- He/She also appoints Governors in the States, the Attorney General of India, the Comptroller and the Auditor General of India, the Ambassadors and High Commissioners as well as the Administrators of the Union Territories.
- He/She also appoints the Chairman and Members of the Union Public Service Commission as well as the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- The President is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces and appoints the Chiefs of the three wings, Army, Airforce and Navy.
Legislative Powers of the President
- President summons both the Houses of the Parliament for sessions.
- President also prorogues the sessions.
- President is also responsible for dissolving the Lok Sabha.
- The first session of each year and the first session of newly elected Lok Sabha after the general elections begin with the address of the President.
- President can nominate two members in the Lok Sabha belonging to the Anglo Indian community.
- President has the power to send messages to the Parliament.
- President can nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha.
- President submits the reports of UPSC, Finance Commission etc. to the Parliament. the assent of the President. To introduce certain bills in the
- No bill can become a law without Parliament, prior permission of the President is required. E.g. Money bills.
- President possesses Veto power.
- President has Ordinance making power under Article 123.
Financial Powers of The President
- All money bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha only with the prior approval of the President.
- The President has the control over Contingency Fund of India. It enables her to advance
money for the purpose of meeting unforeseen expenses.
- Annual budget and railway budget are introduced in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the President.
- The President appoints the Finance Commission after every five years. It makes recommendations to the President on some specific financial matters, especially the distribution of Central taxes between the Union and the States.
- The President also receives the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, and has it laid in the Parliament.
Diplomatic Powers of The President:
- The President has the power of appointing Indian Ambassadors to other countries
- He receives ambassadors, High Commissions and diplomatic envoys from foreign Nations.
- All treaties and international agreements are concluded in the name of the President.
- The president represents India in International Conferences.
Judicial Powers of the President
- The President, as head of state, can pardon a criminal or reduce the punishment or suspen cummute or remit the sentence of a criminal convicted by the Supreme Court or High Courts for an offence against the federal laws.
- Presidents pardoning power comprises of Pardon, reprieve, remission, respite and commutation.
- The President can pardon a person convicted by a Court Martial. His/her power of pardon includes granting of pardon even to a person awarded death sentence. But, the President performs this function on the advice of Law Ministry.
- Advisory Jurisdiction under Article 143 also comes under judicial powers of the President.
Emergency Powers of the President:-
- Article 352: Proclamation of Emergency – due to external intrusion or war the President of India can declare a state of emergency through a Proclamation. This Article suggests that such a Proclamation can be revoked or a varied Proclamation can also be issued. However, the decision of the Cabinet ministers to issue such a proclamation must be sent to the President in written form prior to his issuance of the same. According to the Article, all such Proclamations should be presented to both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamations, if not accepted by a resolution, will be counted as ineffective after one month. If the Proclamation is not accepted after the passing of a second resolution, then it will become ineffective after the expiry of 6 months of the second resolution. It is also mentioned in the Article that not less than two-thirds of the members of any of the Parliamentary Houses should be required to pass a resolution. There are certain rules specified in this Article regarding the President revoking or issuing a varied Proclamation during Emergency.
- Article 353: Effect of Proclamation of Emergency – this Article states that the Proclamation of Emergency includes extending the executive power of the union to the states in the form of directions. The Parliament, as per this Article, can confer the power to make laws, upon the officers or authorities of the Union.
- Article 354: Application of provisions relating to distribution of revenues while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation – provisions made under Articles 268 to 279 can be modified or exceptions can be made by the President of India by an Order while the Proclamation period of emergency is going on. Information about all such Orders must be conveyed to both the Houses of Parliament.
- Article 355: Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance – this Article states the fact that the Union or Center is solely responsible for defending the various states from all types of violence and aggressions erupting from outside and disturbances occurring within the nation’s territory.
- Article 356: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States – the President of India can take charge of a state if the reports submitted to him by the Governor suggest that the government of the state has become incapable of exercising the Constitutional powers. The President is also subjected to exercise the powers of the government of such state by Proclamation. The Proclamation issued under such circumstances become ineffective after 6 months from the date of issuance, if not revoked during this time period. All such Proclamations have to be presented to both the Houses of Indian Parliament and will expire after two months. The Legislative powers of such state shall also be exercised by the Parliament. In the Houses of Parliament there are certain rules and regulations regarding the expiry of the Proclamation and the time period normally depends upon the fact whether it has been revoked earlier or not.
- Article 357: Exercise of legislative powers under Proclamation issued under article 356 – the powers of the Legislature shall be exercised by the Parliament during emergency. The Parliament has the right to delegate Legislative powers to the President of India or any such authority. The President of India, after the Proclamation of Article 356, can make laws and shall have access to the consolidated fund during the time period when the House of the People is not in operation.
- Article 358: Suspension of provisions of article 19 during emergencies – any provision under Article 19 will not be effective during emergency and the states can make law and undertake executive action. However, only those laws and executive actions containing recital related to emergency during the Proclamation of Emergency are effective as per the Article.
- Article 359: Suspension of the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III during emergencies – the President of India can suspend all ongoing proceedings in any court of the nation during emergencies by an Order. The President can also call upon all pending court proceedings in case of emergencies. All such orders declaring the suspension of court proceedings have to be submitted to both the Houses of Parliament.
- Article 360: Provisions as to financial emergency – a declaration shall be made by the President of India through a Proclamation regarding the financial crisis of the nation if such situation arises. Such a Proclamation can be revoked and has to be presented in both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamation thus issued will become null and void after two months if the same is not approved through a resolution passed by the Houses of Parliament. In case the Houses are not in session the Article suggests certain specific guidelines regarding the Proclamation. This Article also includes provisions relating to the salary and allowance reduction of those who are employed with Union and state departments. A provision relating to money bills and other financial bills passed by the state Legislature is mentioned in the Article. This provision states that all such bills have to be considered by the President during financial instability.
Vice-President performs a dual role : (1) as Vice-President (2) as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha which means that whosoever is the Vice-President, he/she presides over the Rajya Sabha and performs normal duties of a presiding officer. These include maintenance of order in the House, allowing members to speak and ask questions, and putting bills and motions to vote.
He/She is elected by an electoral college which consists of the members of both Houses of the Parliament. He/She is
elected according to the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferrable vote, and the voting is by secret ballot.
The Vice-President can be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by its members and agreed by Lok Sabha. At least fourteen days’ notice is necessary before such resolution is moved.
The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha which means that whosoever is the Vice-President, he/she presides over the Rajya Sabha and performs normal duties of a presiding officer. These include maintenance of order in the House, allowing members to speak and ask questions, and putting bills and motions to vote. Since the Vice-President is not a member of the Rajya Sabha, he/she cannot vote in the House. But, in case of a tie (equality of votes in favour and against a bill), the Vice President exercises his/her casting vote so that a decision can be reached.
If ever a vacancy arises in the office of President, due to death, resignation or impeachment, the Vice-President officiates as the President for not more than six months (see above). During that period, he enjoys all powers of the President, and does not preside over the House when he officiates as President.
In case the President is temporarily unable to discharge his/her functions, the Vice-President may be called upon to discharge his/her functions, without becoming officiating President.
Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers
The executive powers of the President are exercised by the Council of Ministers. The Constitution provides that “there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the excercise of his functions”. Here the word “shall” indicates that the President cannot function without the Council of Ministers. The President is the constitutional head of State, but the real Head of the government is the Prime Minister.
The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government and, therefore, divides the executive into two parts: the nominal and real executive. The President of India is the nominal executive and the Council of Ministers is the real executive which works under the leadership of Prime Minister. Article 74, 75, and 78 of the constitution provide for provisions relating to the council of Ministers and the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and other Ministers shall be appointed by the President upon the advice of the Prime Minister. The Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President. The council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. A minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Parliament shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.
The Prime Minister being the head of the Council of Ministers, selects the Ministers to be sworn in by the President. The Ministers in fact are chosen by the Prime Minister and remain Ministers as long as they enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister distributes portfolios among Ministers. The President can change the portfolios as and when he desires. The Prime Minister can drop a Minister or ask for his/her resignation. The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and conducts its proceedings. As head of the Cabinet, he/she largely influences the decisions of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister co-ordinates the working of various ministers.
The Prime Minister, as the leader of the Lok Sabha, is also the leader of the Parliament. In the capacity as the leader of the majority party it is he who decides, in consultation with the Speaker, the complete agenda of the house. The summoning and proroguing of the house is decided upon by him. He can address each house of the Parliament but can vote only in the house to which he belongs. The Prime Minister has the most effective power to ask for dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
The Prime Minister is the Ex-officio Chairman of the Planning Commission (Now NITI Ayog) as well as of the National Development Council. He/She represents the nation at the international conferences as the head of the government.
Constitution of India states that “There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice: Provided that the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.”