Kriyaa Hi Vastoopahutaa Praseedati

Indian Polity, Study Materials

Union Executive

Articles 52 to 78 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the Union executive.

  • The Union executive consists of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the council of ministers and the attorney general of India.

The President

  • He is the first citizen of India and acts as the symbol of unity, integrity and solidarity of the nation.
  • The President is elected not directly by the people but by members of electoral college consisting of:
    • The elected members of both the Houses of Parliament
    • The elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the states; and
    • The elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Qualifications

  • He is a citizen of India.
  • He is over 35 years of age.
  • He is otherwise qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
  • He must not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or any State or any other authority subject to the control of any of these governments.
  • However, the offices of the President or the Vice-President or the Governor of a State or a Minister for the union or for any state would not be deemed to be holding an office of profit.

Election

  • Article- 54 provides for indirect election of the President through an Electoral College consisting of:
    • The elected member of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha
    • The elected members of the legislative assembly of the States.
    • The members of the legislative assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Manner of election

  • The election of the President is held in accordance with the system of Proportional Representation by means of the single transferable vote.
  • The voting is done by secret ballot.

Impeachment of the President

  • Article 61 – lays down the procedure for the impeachment of the President.
  • The procedure is a quasi-judicial procedure.
  • The only ground for impeachment is violation of the Constitution.
  • The charge against the President may be initiated in any house of the Parliament. The charge must be in the form of a proposal contained in a resolution.
  • The notice for moving the resolution must be signed by not less than one fourth of the total number of members of the House.
  • Advance notice of 14 days is required.
  • The resolution must be passed by a majority of not less than two third of the total membership of the House.
  • After the change is so preferred it is investigated by the House. The President has the right to appear and be represented in such investigations.
  • If after investigation the House passes the resolution by 2/3 majority of the house and if the other House also passes this resolution by the same majority, the effect of the resolution would be that the President shall be removed from his office the date on which the resolution is passed.

Powers of The President

A. Executive powers

  • The executive power of the Union is vested in the President. The executive power does not only mean the execution of laws passed by the legislative but also the powers to carry out the business of the Government.
  • However, it is evident that the President is not free to use his powers; rather he acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • The executive powers of the President include administrative powers and military powers.
  • Administratively, the President may not discharge any function as there are ministries responsible for such an act. This way the President becomes a formal head and action is taken in his name.
  • The administrative power also includes the power to appoint and remove the high dignitaries of the State.
  • The President shall have the power to appoint:
  • The Prime Minister of India.
  • Other Ministers of the Union.
  • The Attorney-General for India.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
  • The judges of the Supreme Court.
  • The judges of the High Courts of the States.
  • The Governor of a State
  • A commission to investigate interference with water-supplies.
  • The Finance Commission.
  • The Union Public Service Commission and joint Commissions for a group of States.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner and other members of the Election Commission
  • A Special Officer for the Schedule Castes and Tribes.
  • A Commission to report on the administration of Scheduled Areas.
  • A Commission to investigate into the condition of backward classes.
  • A Commission on Official Language.
  • Special Officer for linguistic minorities.
  • The President shall have the power to remove:
  • The Attorney-General of India;
  • The Governor of a State;
  • The Chairman or a member of the Public Service Commission of the Union or of a State, on the report of the Supreme Court;
  • A Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court or the Election Commissioner, on an address of Parliament.

B. Legislative Powers

  • Summoning, Prorogation, Dissolution: Indian President shall have the power to summon or prorogue the Houses of Parliament and to dissolve the lower House. He shall also have the power to summon a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament in case of a deadlock between them. [Arts. 85, 108]
  • The Opening Address: The President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together, at the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year, and “inform Parliament of the causes of its summons” [Art. 87].
  • The Right to send Messages: Apart from the right to address, the Indian President shall have the right to send messages to either House of Parliament either in regard to any pending Bill or to any other matter, and the House must then consider the message “with all convenient dispatch” [Art. 86(2)].
  • Nominating Members to the Houses: The President has been given the power to nominate certain members to both the Houses upon the supposition that adequate representation of certain interests will not be possible through the competitive system of election. Thus, (I) In the Council of States, 12 members are to be nominated by the President from persons having special knowledge or practical experience of literature, science, art and social service [Art. 80(1)]. (II) The President is also empowered to nominate not more than two members to the House of the People from the Anglo-Indian community, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in that House [Art. 331].
  • Laying Reports before Parliament: The President is brought into contact with Parliament also through his power and study to cause certain reports and statements to be laid before Parliament, so that Parliament may have the opportunity of taking action upon them.
  • Previous sanction to legislation: The Constitution requires the previous sanction or recommendation of the President for introducing legislation on certain matters. 
  • Assent to legislation and Veto: A Bill will not be an Act of the Indian Parliament unless and until it receives the assent of the President. When a Bill is presented to the President, after its passage in both Houses of Parliament, the President shall be entitled to take any of the following three steps:
    • His assent to the Bill;
    • He withholds his assent to the Bill; or
    • He may, in the case of Bills other than Money Bills, return the Bill for reconsideration of the Houses, with or without a message suggesting amendments. A Money Bill cannot be returned for reconsideration.
  • In case of (c), if the Bill is passed again by both Houses of Parliament with or without amendment and again presented to the President, it would be obligatory upon him to declare his assent to it (Art. 111).

Types of ‘Veto power –

From the standpoint of effect on the legislation, executive vetoes have been classified as absolute, qualified, suspensive and pocket veto. Besides the power to veto Union Legislation, the President of India shall also have the power of disallowance or return for reconsideration of a Bill of the State Legislature, which may have been reserved for his consideration by the Governor of the State (Art. 201).

  1. Absolute Veto: Refusal of assent to any bill. The bill cannot become law, notwithstanding any vote of Parliament.
  2. Qualified Veto: A veto is ‘qualified’ when it can be overridden by a higher majority of the Legislature and the Bill can be enacted as law with such majority vote, overriding the executive veto.
  3. Suspensive Veto: A veto is suspensive when the executive veto can be overridden by the Legislature by an ordinary majority.
  4. Pocket Veto: By simply withholding a Bill during the last few days of the session of the Legislature, the Executive can prevent the Bill to become law.

C. Ordinance Issuing Power (ART- 123)

  • The President has a very strong position in the sense that he has the power of issuing ordinance. In case there is a matter of urgency and a law is needed for a particular situation, the President can issue ordinance.
  • The 38th Amendment in this regard is a milestone in the sense that his assent is important.
  • The ordinance can be promulgated by the President when the Houses of Parliament are not in session. The ordinance will have the same effect as of the law of the land.

D. Pardoning Power

  • Article 72 of the Constitution empowers the President to grant pardons to persons who have been tried and convicted of any offence in all cases where the: –
  • Punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union Law, offence by a court martial (military court) and the sentence of death.
  • The object of conferring this power on the President is to keep the door open for correcting any judicial errors in the operation of law and to afford relief from a sentence, which the President regards as unduly harsh.
  • The pardoning power of the President includes the following: –
    1. Pardon– It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
    2. Commutation– It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
    3. Remission– It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
    4. Respite– It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
    5. Reprieve– It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.

E. Emergency Powers

  • The President also enjoys emergency power. In a federal structure the grip of the Union on the State is not so tight and hence the Constitution framers did provide for the exigencies which may require a tightening grip of the Union on the State.
  • Article 356 gives powers to the President for the extension of his rule in the State. “If the President on receipt of a report from the Governor of a State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on; the President may extend his rule to the State.
  • Article 360 deals with financial emergency, “If the President is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the territory is threatened, then, the President can declare financial emergency.”

Vice-President

  • The Vice-President occupies the second highest office in the country.
  • This office is modelled on the lines of the American Vice-President.
  • The Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office.
  • However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the President.
  • A formal impeachment is not required for his removal.
  • He can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an absolute majority (i.e., a majority of the total members of the House) and agreed to by the Lok Sabha.
  • He is also eligible for re-election to that office. He may be elected for any number of terms.

Election

  • The Vice-President, like the president, is elected not directly by the people but by the method of indirect election.
  • Thus, this electoral college is different from the electoral college for the election of the President in the following two respects:
    • It consists of both elected and nominated members of the Parliament (in the case of president, only elected members).
    • It does not include the members of the state legislative assemblies (in the case of the President, the elected members of the state legislative assemblies are included).

Qualifications: To be eligible for election as Vice-President, a person should fulfill the following qualifications:

  • He should be a citizen of India.
  • He should have completed 35 years of age.
  • He should be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  • He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local authority or any other public authority.

Conditions of Office: The Constitution lays down the following two conditions of the Vice-President’s office:

  • He should not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the state legislature. If any such person is elected Vice-President, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as Vice-President.
  • He should not hold any other office of profit.

Functions of The Vice-President

  • By virtue of his office (i.e., ex-officio), he is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Hence, the normal function of the Vice-President is to preside over the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Vice-President acts as President when there is a vacancy in the office of the President.
  • The vacancy may occur by reasons of death, resignation, removal by impeachment or otherwise. He discharges the functions of the President when the President is unable to perform his functions. The reasons may also include absence of the President from India or illness or some other cause.
  • He is not a member of Rajya Sabha; he has no right to vote, but can exercise a “Casting Vote”.
  • The Vice-President shall, during, and in respect of the period while he is so acting as, or discharging the functions of the President, have all the powers and immunities of the President and be entitled to such emoluments, allowances, and privileges as may be determined by the Parliament by law and, until provision in that behalf is so made, such emoluments, allowances, and privileges as are specified in the Second Schedule.
  • While he acts as the President, he will not draw the salary of the Chairman of the Council of State as he ceases to perform these duties as the Chairman.

Prime Minister

According to the Constitution of India the Prime Minister is the real head of the country or the real executive authority (de facto executive).

  • The constitution does not specify any specific procedure for appointment of Prime Minister, except that he shall be appointed by President as mentioned in the article 75.
  • Hence, he is appointed by convention of parliamentary system of government where the President appoints the leader of majority party in the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister.
  • President also has the personal discretion when no party is in clear majority (in such a situation, he invites the leader of largest party or coalition as a Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in a month) and or when the Prime Minister in the office dies and there is no obvious successor. But, when the party elects its new leader, the President has to appoint him as a new Prime Minister.

Eligibility

To become an Indian prime minister one has to be

  • A citizen of India.
  • A member of either Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha
  • He should have completed his 30 years if he is a member of the Rajya Sabha or can be 25 years of age if he is a member of the Lok Sabha
  • A person who is appointed as Prime Minister but is not a member of either house of the parliament has to become the member of the either house within six months. A Prime Minister should not be necessarily from Lok Sabha & can be a member of any house of the parliament.

Position of the PM

  • The Prime Minister of India gets the salary of the member of the Parliament.
  • The Prime Minister of India is the ex officio Chairman of the NITI Aayog, National
    Development Council, National integration council and Inter State Council
    .
  • The Prime Minister of India takes OATH in the presence of the President of India.
  • The Prime Minister holds office during the pleasure of President (means as long as he enjoys majority support in Lok Sabha).

Powers of The Prime Minister

In relation to the Council of Ministers

  • PM prepares the list of council of ministers. The President can’t drop any name from this list. He also allocates various departments to ministers & can advise the President to dismiss a minister.
  • PM presides over the meetings of the Cabinet. He also supervises and coordinates the working of various departments.
  • PM can bring about the collapse of Council of ministers by resigning from the office.

In relation to the President

  • He is a link between the council of ministers and the President.
  • He advises the President on the issue of making important appointments such as Attorney General, CAG, Chairman & members of UPSC, Election Commissioners etc.
  • He recommends the President to declare emergency on the grounds of war, external
    aggression and armed rebellion.
  • He gives advice the President of India to declare the State emergency if any state is not working according to the provision of Constitution.

In relation to the Parliament

  • He advices the president to summon or prorogue the sessions of the Parliament or he can recommend for dissolution of Lok Sabha.
  • He plays a leading role in the making of all the policy statements as also in the
    preparation of the annual budget.

Other Powers & functions

  • He is the Leader of the nation, leader of the party in the power & Political head of the services.
  • He is Chief spokesman of the Union government & crisis manager-in-chief during
    emergencies.
  • He plays an important role in shaping foreign policy of the nation.
  • He is the Chairman of various bodies such as NITI Aayog, Inter-state Council, National Integration Council, National Development Council & National Water Resources Council.

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