The President of India is a component part of the Union Parliament. Despite being the executive head of the state, the President also has many legislative powers that are important for the country’s legislation.
Some of his powers are –
- He has power to summon and prorogue the Parliament [Article 85 (1)]
- He can dissolve the Lok Sabha [Article 85 (2)]
- The President is bound to summon Parliament within six months from the last sitting of the former session.
- If there is a conflict between the two Houses of Parliament over an ordinary Bill he can call a joint sitting of both Houses, to resolve the deadlock [Article 108]
- At the commencement of each session the President addresses either House of Parliament of a joint session of a Parliament. In his address to joint session of Parliament he outlines the general policy and programmer of the Government [Article 87]
- He may send message to either Houses of Parliament [Article 86]
- When the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker become vacant, he has the authority to appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings.
- Similarly, he can appoint any Rajya Sabha member to preside over its proceedings if both the Chairman and Deputy Chairman’s positions become vacant.
- In consultation with the Election Commission, he makes decisions on disqualifications of members of Parliament
- Every Bill passed by both Houses of Parliament is to be sent to the President for his assent [Article 111]. He may give his assent to the Bill, or withhold his assent or in the case of a bill other than a money-bill, may return it to the House for reconsideration on the line suggested by him. If the bill is again passed by both the Houses of the Parliament with or without amendment, he must give his assent to it when it is sent to him for the second time.
- A bill for the recognition of a new State or alteration of State boundaries can only be introduced in either House of the Parliament after his recommendation [Article 3].
- The State Bills for imposing restrictions on freedom of trade and commerce require his recommendation [Article 304]
- He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from among persons having special knowledge or practical experience of Literature, Science, Art and Social Services [Article 80 (3)].
- He is authorized by the Constitution to nominate two Anglo-Indians to the Lok Sabha, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indians community is not adequately represented in that House [Article 331].
- When the Parliament is not in session, he has the authority to issue ordinances. The Parliament must approve these ordinances within six weeks of its reassembly. He may also revoke an ordinance at any time [Article 123]
- He has the authority to enact laws to ensure the peace, progress, and good governance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Ladakh.
- In the case of Puducherry, the President has the authority to legislate through regulations only when the assembly is suspended or dissolved.
The President in his power and duty, causes the laying of the following reports in the Parliament:
1. The Annual Financial Statement (colloquially called Budget) and supplementary statement (if present).
2. Reports of Auditor-General relating to the accounts of the Indian Government.
3. Annual report of Union Public Service Commission. Explanation is provided for the reasons for any case where the advice of UPSC was not accepted.
4. Reports of Finance Commission along with explanatory memorandum of action taken on the recommendations of the Commission.
5. Reports of Special officers of Scheduled Castes (SC) & Scheduled tribes (ST).
6. Report of the Special officers of Linguistic Minorities and Backward Classes.
VETO POWER: AN OVERVIEW
The veto power is the power of the President to withhold his/her assent to the bill. The Article 111 gives this power. The existence of the veto power ensures that there is no hasty or ill-considered enactment of a legislation. However, the power of the Veto is lessened in the case of Parliamentary system like the one found in India. Here, the President is a part of the Executive, which initiates and conducts legislation. Furthermore, the President of India acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers, who are responsible for conducting the legislation matters.
Veto Powers of the Indian President
The Indian President can use the following veto powers:
(i) Absolute Veto
Under this, the President can withhold his assent altogether i.e. he/she can refuse to give assent. Result: In such a case, the bill ends and cannot become an Act.
The President can use Absolute veto in two instances:
- In case of a private member’s bill , or
- In case when the Lok Sabha is dissolved after the passage of bills but before the President can give his assent and the newly elected cabinet advises the President against giving assent to the bill.
In 1954, President Dr. Rajendra Prasad used absolute veto in case of PEPSU Appropriation Bill. Another example is when in 1991, erstwhile President R. Venkataraman in case of Salary, Amendments and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill exercised absolute veto.
(ii) Suspensive Veto
In this kind of veto, the executive veto can be overridden by a simple majority. Once the President sends the bill back for reconsideration and during the re-passage of the bill, it is passed in the Parliament with a simple majority, the President has to give his assent.
A money bill cannot be sent back by the President for reconsideration. The President can either withhold his assent or declare the assent. However, Money Bills are not introduced without prior recommendation of the President and therefore the money bills normally get President’s assent
(iii) Pocket Veto
In this case, when the bill is presented to the President, he/she may neither give the assent nor send it back for reconsideration. It is almost like keeping the bill inside the pocket without any indication of bringing it out for accepting or sending it back.
The Pocket Veto can be used when the President neither gives his assent nor sends the bill back to the Parliament for reconsideration. The President may keep the bill pending for an indefinite time period. This absence of a time period may seem as the pocket veto power which can be used by the Indian President. The Article 111 of the Constitution only states that if the President needs to send back the bill for reconsideration, he needs to do that “as soon as possible” once the bill is presented to him.
There is no provision in the Indian Constitution where the President can use qualified veto.
The President is the head of the Indian State. He is India’s first citizen and serves as a symbol of the nation’s unity, integrity, and solidarity. He has been granted the responsibility and authority to protect the Constitution. The Right to send messages by the President regarding legislative matters and other matters may seem superfluous given that in the Indian Parliamentary System, the President is represented by the Council of Ministers and acts upon its advice (Article 74(1)). Sending of a message that is in contrast with or negates the policy envisaged by the council of ministers gives way to a friction between the Cabinet, which exercises the actual powers and influence on the legislative matters of the country, and the President who is a nominal head of the country. It can also be noted that the power of the President to review the Bills reserved for him by the governor supports the fact India is State with a unitary bias that tilts more towards the Union rather than the states
Constitution of India by J.N. Pandey
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