The constitutional powers and functions of the President of India may be studied under the following heads:-
- Executive Powers
- Legislative powers
- Financial Powers
- Judicial Powers
- Diplomatic Powers
- Military Powers
- Emergency Powers
The executive powers and functions of the President are:-
- The President is at the head of the Union Executive. Consequently, 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.
- 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. Such situations developed in the past. India has entered into an age of coalition politics. And it may so happen that no single party will be able to secure an absolute majority, and the President may be required to exercise his discretionary power for some time to come, in appointing Prime Minister.
- 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, as the Prime Ministers Sri H.D. Deve Gowda was asked by the President after the official withdrawal of support by the Congress Party from Ministry. 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.
The president is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers:
- The Union Legislature or Parliament consists of the President and two Houses of Parliament. He/she 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.
- 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/she 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. Normally, the President does not send such a message, unless however, he/she has a serious disagreement with the Council of Ministers.
- The President nominates a number of members in both Houses. He/she nominates 12 members in the Rajya Sabha, and 2 members in Lok Sabha from Anglo-Indian community. 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.
- The President has certain functions in respect of passing of a Bill. A bill passed by both the Houses of Parliament requires his/her assent in order to become an Act. He/she can: (a) give his assent to a bill or (b) can withhold assent
If Parliament passes it again with or without amendment, for the second time and presents it to the President for his/her approval, the President shall not withhold his/her assent there from under Article 111 (in case of Money Bills).
- A bill passed by a State Legislature may also be reserved for the consideration of the President by the Governor of that State. The President enjoys this right in relation to a bill passed by a State Legislature only in such cases where those are referred to him by the Government of a State under Article 200.
- Except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President may promulgate such Ordinances as the circumstances appear to him to require (Article 123). Such an ordinance can have the same force and effect of an Act of Parliament. Such an ordinance shall cease to operate unless passed by both Houses of Parliament within the stipulated period.