India has a parliamentary form of government consisting of two houses of parliament- The Lok Sabha and The Rajya Sabha. The president of India is the titular or nominal head of the state and is a member of the Union Executive. The provisions provided under the constitution of India deals with the powers and functions of the president. The President is an important member of the Union Executive. Despite being the executive head of the state, the President has many legislative powers that are crucial for the nation's legislation. This article will deal with the President's legislative powers.
The Legislative powers of the President are as follows:
1. President’s power to summon, prorogue and dissolve the house-
Article 85 of the constitution gives the President the authority to summon what is called a meeting of both the Houses of Parliament, proroguing the Houses of Parliament that end their session without dissolving them. Additionally, the President can dissolve the Lok Sabha even before the expiry of its term. New general elections must be held in accordance with the dissolution. The president may also Adjournment sine dine meaning "Without designating a day for a further meeting or hearing". A house may be suspended sine die by the President, without assigning any set time for the house to reconvene or meet again.
2. Joint sitting of both houses of parliament-
Under article 108 the President has the authority to call a joint session of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in certain specific situations, such as when a bill, except money bill is rejected by the other house, when the other house disagrees with the amendments made to the bill, or when a bill passed by either house remains in that house for longer than six months due to any problem. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over the joint session. The purpose of the joint sitting is to break any deadlock that develops between the two houses regarding the passage of a bill.
3. President's power to dissolve the Lok Sabha-
Article 83 empowers the president to dissolve the Lok Sabha even before the expiry of its term on the advice of the prime minister. He may also dissolve it if he believes the Prime Minister is acting in an unconstitutional manner, abusing his powers and majority in the House.
4. Presidential assent to bills-
When a bill is passed by both houses of parliament, the secretariat of the house in possession of the bill has to obtain the president’s assent. In case of money bills or bills passed in joint session the secretariat of Lok Sabha attains the president’s assent for the bill to become an act. Article 111 empowers the President to take the following actions when a bill is presented for assent:
Assent to the bill so that it becomes an Act.
Refuse to sign the bill.
If the bill is an ordinary bill, he or she may return it to the Houses for reconsideration. If the house passes it again with or without incorporating the recommendations made by the president, he is bound to give his assent. The president cannot return a Money Bill for reconsideration but can either give or withhold his assent. In almost all cases, the President of India grants assent to Money Bills. He is bound to provide assent to a constitution amendment bill which is passed by the houses by a special majority and sometimes even ratified by states.
5. President’s right to address and sent message to both house of parliament-
Right to address- According to article 86, the President has the right to address the Parliament's Houses individually or jointly at any time. The presence of the Members of the Parliament is necessary for this purpose whenever the President exercises this right.
Right to send message- The president can send a message to either house of parliament in matters relating to a pending bill or any other matter which the house must consider with ‘all convenient dispatch.’
6. Nominating members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha-
Article 80 gives power to the president to nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha having substantive knowledge or special experience in the field of art, literature, science and social service. He can also in accordance to article 331 nominate 2 Anglo Indians to the Lok Sabha in case he feels this community is not adequately represented.
7. Appointment making power-
When the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker become vacant, the president has the authority to appoint any Lok Sabha member to preside over its proceedings. Similarly, if both the Chairman and Deputy Chairman positions become vacant, he can appoint any Rajya Sabha member to preside over its proceedings.
8. Special address by the president-
According to Article 87, the President delivers a special opening address to both houses of the Parliament when they are assembled during the first session following each general election after all members have taken their oaths and the Speaker has been chosen, and at the start of the first session each year where both houses are present together. The President discusses the various policies and programs of the current administration in this session while also highlighting some of their significant accomplishments from the previous year.
9. President’s power to present reports to the house-
In his power and duty, the President causes the following reports to be laid before Parliament:
The Annual Financial Statement also known as the Budget and any supplementary statements if present.
Auditor-General's report on the Indian Government's accounts.
Union Public Service Commission's annual report. In any case where the UPSC's advice was not accepted, an explanation is provided.
Finance Commission reports, along with an explanatory memorandum of action taken in response to the Commission's recommendations.
Reports of special officers on Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST)
Report of special officers on the Linguistic Minorities and Backward Classes.
10. Ordinance making power of the president-
The president can issue ordinance when the parliament is not in session under article 123 of the constitution. These ordinances have the power of law. Ordinances can be issued on the recommendations of the union cabinet on matters which the parliament can legislate. Ordinances are issued on matters which require immediate action. Once the parliament comes into session, these ordinances need to be approved by the parliament within 6 weeks from the date of start of its session or else it will cease to function.
11. President's power to make special rules for the union territories-
According to Article 239, the President has the authority to create special rules for Union Territories. In certain circumstances, the President has the authority to issue rules for the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Pondicherry to ensure peace, progress, and good governance. In the case of Pondicherry, the President can make rules only after the assembly has been dissolved and suspended.
1. INDIA CONST. art 85
2. INDIA CONST. art 108
3. INDIA CONST. art 83
4. INDIA CONST. art 111
5. INDIA CONST. art 86
6. INDIA CONST. art 80
7. INDIA CONST. art 331
8. INDIA CONST. art 123
9. INDIA CONST. art 239
This article is written by Anuska Banerjee of Symbiosis Law School, Pune.