Posted in General Studies 2, Polity

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)

updated on May 21st, 2019

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is a guardian of the union government.
  • His office has been created by the Constitution.
  • He is appointed by the President. Generally, a person with long administrative experience and knowledge of accounts is appointed to this office.
  • He holds office for a term of six years or till he attains the age of 65 years.
  • However, he can relinquish office earlier.
  • The President can also remove him from office before the expiry of his term on grounds of proved misbehaviour and incapacity.
  • The President issues orders for removal of CAG only on the recommendation of the two houses of Parliament.

The Constitution ensures the independence of the CAG:


1. By charging his salary and other expenses for the maintenance of his office of the Consolidated Fund of India.

2. By providing that the salary and other service conditions of the CAG shall not be changed to his disadvantage during his tenure.

3. By giving him complete control over administrative staff.

4. By making his removal difficult.

Functions of CAG

  • Under the Indian Constitution, the Comptroller and Auditor General continued to perform the same functions and powers which he had before the commencement of the Constitution, i.e. both accounting and auditing functions.
  • His accounting functions included maintenance of accounts of central and state governments.
  • He prepared the annual summary of these accounts and provided directions regarding the methods and principles to be observed for the maintenance of accounts.
  • He also submitted to the President general statement relating to accounts of each year showing balances and outstanding liabilities.
  • However, in 1976, the CAG was relieved of his responsibilities with regard to compilation and maintenance of accounts (a job which was transferred to the administrative ministries) and he was left only with auditing duties.

Important Audit Duties of the CAG

  1. He ensures that the appropriations made by the Parliament have not been exceeded without proper sanction.
  2. He satisfies himself about the wisdom, faithfulness and economy of the expenditure incurred.
  3. He can disallow any expenditure which is his opinion infringes or violates the Constitution or the law.
  4. He assists the professional auditors in the audit of the accounts of the government companies and can prescribe the form and manner of such audit.
  5. He can conduct supplementary test audit of company’s accounts and can also be entrusted with the responsibility of audit of accounts of local bodies by the President.

In short, the CAG acts as custodian and trustee of the public money. He ensures regularity of expenditure and looks into the wisdom of the expenditure. Even year the CAG of India submits a report relating to the accounts of the Union to the President who places the same before the Parliament.

Regarding Forms of Accounts

  • Historically speaking, in India, except for the departments of Railways and Defence (where the accounts were compiled by the departments themselves), the twin function of accounts and audit were combined in the CAG and the erstwhile Accountants General.
  • Successive commissions set up to investigate and report about Indian administration suggested that the two functions should be separated. The Muddiman Committee (1924) and the Simon Commission (1929) had strongly recommended the bifurcation of the two processes.
  • Independent India’s first CAG. Narahari Rao. had also suggested separation of the two functions.
  • Further, the case for separation was also put up by Ashok Chanda, the second CAG of India. He suggested that the function of accounting be given to different ministries/departments.
  • The purpose of transferring accounting function to ministries should be to provide them with the means for controlling the appropriations in accordance with the votes of Parliament and to introduce greater flexibility in the utilisation of the available resources by the process of permissible reappropriations. It should also enable them to keep a close watch on the progress of their plans and programmes.
  • It was generally held that accounting was an executive function and should be entrusted to the executive head of the department.
  • On the other hand, auditing is a quasi-parliamentary function and hence, the two ought not to be combined. In the interest of sound financial administration, accounting ought to be given to departments which arc the actual spending authorities. Moreover, it was felt that where the CAG devoted himself totally to audit, he would have more time to take an in-depth look into the matter and besides, it would save the CAG from the embarrassment of auditing accounts compiled by himself.
  • In 1976. the Central Government took the historical step of separating account from an audit. This separation was completed in three phases, effective from 1st April. 1976 (covering three ministries). 1 July 1976 (covering nine more ministries) and 1 October. 1976 (covering the remaining ministries). As a consequence of this step, the administrative departments have assumed full responsibility for making payments and their accounting. The accounts of the ministries departments are to be compiled within 25 days after the close of the month.
  • Upon the separation of accounts from audit, a Controller General of Accounts has been appointed in the Central Government as the technical authority heading the new accounting set-up. He is in charge of the final compilation of accounts. However, the CAG still certifies the Union Government Finance Accounts and Appropriation Accounts prepared by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) and the Finance Accounts and Appropriation Accounts of the states prepared by the states Accountants Generals.
  • In order to secure uniformity in accounting principles and procedures, the CAG is authorized to prescribe, with the approval of the President, the form in which the accounts of the union and the states should be kept. This includes the power to give directions with regard to these principles and procedures.

Some Recent Changes in the role of CAG

  • In the past few years, the CAG reports have moved beyond complex accounting and have made an attempt to be more readable for the common man by elaborating on the implications of its comments. In the past few years, the quality of CAG reports has improved; they have become more up-to-date and are being issued on matters of current public interest.
  • The CAG has been accused of being fixated with ‘petty faults’ in government expenditure. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission also argued that the CAG’s reports should be more constructive and delve into the causes of the problems detected. A macro-level view of the functioning of the department is seldom available in the CAG reports.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, therefore, argued that the CAG should offer constructive suggestions for strengthening government operations and thus becoming reform-oriented by suggesting certain desirable best practices * It must identify systemic problems and should look at itself as an agency for change and improvement rather than primarily as an instrument for the detection of irregularities.
  • Accordingly, in recent times, the CAG seems to have taken a holistic approach to audit, focusing on the macro picture. It has started giving recommendations for improvements in the government system. Currently, there is a concerted effort by all audit wings of the CAG to move away from pointing out individual irregularities, i.e., auditing paragraphs, to systemic irregularities based on the matic audit. This transition will enable CAG to focus on systemic issues and evaluate the risks to internal controls.
  • The current CAG of India is Shashi Kant Sharma who was appointed on May 23, 2013. He is the 12th CAG of India. Recently the CAG under its former head, Vinod Rai has constantly been in the limelight for its reports exposing mega corruption, particularly in 2G spectrum scam, CWG scam and coal mining scam.

Prominent CAG Reports

2G Spectrum Allocation

  • A CAG report on the issue of Licences and Allocation of 2G Spectrum resulted in a huge controversy. The report estimated that there was a presumptive loss of? 1766. 45 billion (US$32 billion). In a charge sheet filed on 2nd April 2011 by the investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the agency pegged the loss at ^309845.5 million (US$5.7 billion). All the speculations of profit, loss and no-loss were put to rest on 2nd February 2012 when the Supreme Court of India, on a public interest litigation (PIL), declared allotment of spectrum as “unconstitutional and arbitrary” and quashed all the 122 licenses issued in 2008 during tenure of A. Raja (then minister for communications & IT), the main accused. The court further said that A. Raja “wanted to favor some companies at the cost of the public exchequer” and “virtually gifted away important national asset”. Revenue loss calculation was further established on 3rd August. 2012 when according to the directions of the Supreme Court, the Government of India revised the reserve price for 2G spectrum to ‘ 140 billion (US$2.6 billion).

Coal Mine Allocation

In the year 2012, CAG report on Coal Mine Allocation received massive media coverage and political reaction as well as public outrage. During the 2012 monsoon session of the Parliament, the BJP protested the Government’s handling of the issue, demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and refused to have a debate in the Parliament. The deadlock resulted in Parliament functioning only seven of the twenty days of the session.

The CAG report criticized the Government by saying it had the authority to allocate coal blocks by a process of competitive bidding but chose not to. As a result, both public sector enterprises (PSEs) and private firms paid less than they might have otherwise. In its draft report in March the CAG estimated that the “windfall gain” to the allocatees was *10673.03 billion (US$200 billion). The CAG Final Report tabled in Parliament put the figure at ? 1855.91 billion (US$34 billion).

While the initial CAG report suggested that coal blocks could have been allocated more efficiently, resulting in more revenue to the government, at no point did it suggest that corruption was involved in the allocation of coal. Over the course of 2012, however, the question of corruption came to dominate the discussion. In response to a complaint by the BJP. the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) directed the CBI to investigate the matter. The CBI named a dozen Indian firms in a First Information Report (FIR), the first step in a criminal investigation. These FIRs accuse them of overstating their net worth, failing to disclose prior coal allocations, and hoarding rather than developing coal allocations. CBI officials investigating the case have speculated that bribery may be involved.

Fodder Scam

This scandal was first exposed due to the CAG report in the matter in December 1995. The report alleged of fraudulent withdrawal of government funds worth 9.5 billion (US$170 million) in the Bihar animal husbandry department against non-existent supplies of fodder and medicines. Subsequently, based on Patna High Court’s orders, CBI investigated the case and registered as many as 63 cases. Many accused have been convicted while many cases are still under trial.

The Constitution of India (Article 148) provides for an independent office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). He is the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department. He is the guardian of the public purse and controls the entire financial system of the country at both the levels—the Centre and the state. His duty is to uphold the Constitution of India and the laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration. This is the reason why Dr. B R Ambedkar said that the CAG shall be the most important Officer under the Constitution of India. He is one of the bulwarks of the democratic system of government in India; the others being the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the Union Public Service Commission.

APPOINTMENT AND TERM of CAG

The CAG is appointed by the president of India by a warrant under his hand and seal. The CAG, before taking over his office, makes and subscribes before the president an oath or affirmation:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India;
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India;
  3. to duly and faithfully and to the best of his ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of his office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; and
  4. to uphold the Constitution and the laws.

He holds office for a period of six years or to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. He can resign any time from his office by addressing the resignation letter to the president. He can also be removed by the president on same grounds and in the same manner as a judge of the Supreme Court. In other words, he can be removed by the president on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with the special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.

INDEPENDENCE

The Constitution has made the following provisions to safeguard and ensure the independence of CAG:

  1. He is provided with the security of tenure. He can be removed by the president only in accordance with the procedure mentioned in the Constitution. Thus, he does not hold his office until the pleasure of the president, though he is appointed by him.
  2. He is not eligible for further office, either under the Government of India or of any state, after he ceases to hold his office.
  3. His salary and other service conditions are determined by the Parliament. His salary is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court3.
  4. Neither his salary nor his rights in respect of leave of absence, pension or age of retirement can be altered to his disadvantage after his appointment.
  5. The conditions of service of persons serving in the Indian Audit and Accounts Department and the administrative powers of the CAG are prescribed by the president after consultation with the CAG.
  6. The administrative expenses of the office of the CAG, including all salaries, allowances and pensions of persons serving in that office are charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India. Thus, they are not subject to the vote of Parliament.

Further, no minister can represent the CAG in Parliament (both Houses) and no minister can be called upon to take any responsibility for any actions done by him.

Removal of CAG

  • Article 148: There shall be a CAG of India who would be appointed by the President and who can be removed from office in a manner and on grounds like Judge of a Supreme Court.
  • The third schedule has the oath or affirmation for CAG. Salary and other conditions of work to be defined by a Law enacted by the Parliament.

DUTIES AND POWERS

The Constitution (Article 149) authorises the Parliament to prescribe the duties and powers of the CAG in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the states and of any other authority or body.

Accordingly, the Parliament enacted the CAG’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) act,

  1. This Act was amended in 1976 to separate accounts from the audit in the Central government. The duties and functions of the CAG as laid down by the Parliament and the Constitution are:
  2. He audits the accounts related to all expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, consolidated fund of each state and consolidated fund of each union territory having a Legislative Assembly.
  3. He audits all expenditure from the Contingency Fund of India and the Public Account of India as well as the contingency fund of each state and the public account of each state.
  4. He audits all trading, manufacturing, profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other subsidiary accounts kept by any department of the Central Government and state governments.
  5. He audits the receipts and expenditure of the Centre and each state to satisfy himself that the rules and procedures in that behalf are designed to secure an effective check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of revenue.
  6. He audits the receipts and expenditure of the following:
    (a) All bodies and authorities substantially financed from the Central or state revenues;
    (b) Government companies; and
    (c) Other corporations and bodies, when so required by related laws.
  7. He audits all transactions of the Central and state governments related to debt, sinking funds, deposits, advances, suspense accounts, and remittance business. He also audits receipts, stock accounts, and others, with the approval of the President, or when required by the President.
  8. He audits the accounts of any other authority when requested by the President or Governor. For example, the audit of local bodies.
  9. He advises the President with regard to the prescription of the form in which the accounts of the Centre and the states shall be kept (Article 150).
  10. He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of the Centre to President, who shall, in turn, place them before both the Houses of Parliament (Article 151).
  11. He submits his audit reports relating to the accounts of a state to the governor, who shall, in turn, place them before the state legislature (Article 151).
  12. He ascertains and certifies the net proceeds of any tax or duty (Article 279). His certificate is final. The ‘net proceeds’ means the proceeds of a tax or a duty minus the cost of collection.
  13. He acts as a guide, friend and philosopher of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.
  14. He compiles and maintains the accounts of state governments. In 1976, he was relieved of his responsibilities with regard to the compilation and maintenance of accounts of the Central Government due to the separation of accounts from audit, that is, departmentalization of accounts.

CAG reports in Parliament

The CAG submits three audit reports to the President—audit report on appropriation accounts, audit report on financial accounts, and an audit report on public undertakings. The President lays these reports before both the Houses of Parliament. After this, the Public Accounts Committee examines them and reports its findings to the Parliament.

The appropriation accounts compare the actual expenditure with the expenditure sanctioned by the Parliament through the Appropriation Act, while the finance accounts show the annual receipts and disbursements of the Union government.

ROLE of CAG

The role of CAG is to uphold the Constitution of India and the laws of Parliament in the field of financial administration. The accountability of the executive (i.e., the council of ministers) to the Parliament in the sphere of financial administration is secured through audit reports of the CAG. The CAG is an agent of the Parliament and conducts an audit of expenditure on behalf of the Parliament. Therefore, he is responsible only to Parliament.

The CAG has more freedom with regard to the audit of expenditure than with regard to the audit of receipts, stores, and stock. “Whereas in relation to expenditure he decides the scope of the audit and frames his own audit codes and manuals, he has to proceed with the approval of the executive government in relation to rules for the conduct of the other audits.”

The CAG has ‘to ascertain whether money shown in the accounts as having been disbursed was legally available for and applicable to the service or the purpose to which they have been applied or charged and whether the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it’. In addition to this legal and regulatory audit, the CAG can also conduct the propriety audit, that is, he can look into the ‘wisdom, faithfulness and economy’ of government expenditure and comment on the wastefulness and extravagance of such expenditure. However, unlike the legal and regulatory audit, which is obligatory on the part of the CAG, the propriety audit is discretionary.

The secret service expenditure is a limitation on the auditing role of the CAG. In this regard, the CAG cannot call for particulars of expenditure incurred by the executive agencies but has to accept a certificate from the competent administrative authority that the expenditure has been so incurred under his authority.

The Constitution of India visualizes the CAG to be Comptroller as well as Auditor General. However, in practice, the CAG is fulfilling the role of an Auditor-General only and not that of a Comptroller. In other words, ‘the CAG has no control over the issue of money from the consolidated fund and many departments are authorized to draw money by issuing cheques without specific authority from the CAG, who is concerned only at the audit stage when the expenditure has already taken place’4. In this respect, the CAG of India differs totally from the CAG of Britain who has powers of both Comptroller as well as Auditor General. In other words, in Britain, the executive can draw money from the public exchequer only with the approval of the CAG.

CAG AND CORPORATIONS

The role of CAG in the auditing of public corporations is limited. Broadly speaking, his relationship with public corporations falls into the following three categories:

(i) Some corporations are audited totally and directly by the CAG, for example, Damodar Valley Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Air India, Indian Airlines Corporation, and others.
(ii) Some other corporations are audited by private professional auditors who are appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the CAG. If necessary, the CAG can conduct a supplementary audit. The examples are Central Warehousing Corporation, Industrial Finance Corporation, and others.
(iii) Some other corporations are totally subjected to private audit. In other words, their audit is done exclusively by private professional auditors and the CAG does not come into the picture at all. They submit their annual reports and accounts directly to the Parliament. Examples of such corporations are Life Insurance Corporation of India, Reserve Bank of India, State Bank of India, Food Corporation of India, and others.

The role of the CAG in the auditing of Government companies is also limited. They are audited by private auditors who are appointed by the Government on the advice of the CAG. The CAG can also audit or test audit of such companies.

Articles Related to Comptroller and Auditor-General of India at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 148.Comptroller and Auditor-General of India
Article 149.Duties and powers of the Comptroller and Auditor-General
Article 150.Form of accounts of the Union and of the States
Article 151.Audit reports
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Posted in Polity

The Prime Minister of India and The Union Council of Ministers

updated on May 22nd, 2019

The Prime Minister of India and The Union Council of Ministers

  • Prime Minister is the most important functionary at the Centre. If you go through the Constitution, you may get a different impression, because all the powers are mentioned as powers of the President. But one provision turns the situation. According to the Constitution, there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall act according to that advice. In fact, the President is bound to exercise all the powers exactly according to the advice of the Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who is the real head of the Union executive.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, but the President has to invite only that person to be the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha. Earlier the person to be invited used to be the leader of only one political party commanding an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. But with the initiation of the phase of coalitions, he/she may be the leader of a group of more than one political party. In the changed situation, the President invites the person who is the leader elected by the political party that has the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha and who receives the support of other political parties to manage the needed majority. Besides being the leader of the majority in Lok Sabha, to be the Prime Minister, the person has to be a Member of Parliament. If he/she is not a Member at the time of appointment, he/she has to acquire it within six months from the state of his appointment as PM.

Functions of the Prime Minister

Is it not interesting to note that the Constitution does not make any specific provision for the powers of the Prime Minister, though he/she is the most powerful functionary of the Union government? The only provision in the Constitution is that the President shall exercise his/her powers on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head, and that advice will be binding. But in practice, it is the Prime Minister who makes and unmakes the Council of Ministers. It is on his/her Recommendations that the President appoints the members of the Council of Ministers and distributes portfolios among them. He/She presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and communicates its decisions to the President. The Prime Minister acts as the link between the President and the Council of Ministers. If, due to any reason, he/she submits his/her resignation, the entire Council of Ministers stands dissolved. As and when the necessity arises, he/she may recommend to the President that the Lok Sabha be dissolved and fresh general elections be held. In fact, the Prime Minister is not only the leader of the majority party, or the leader of the Parliament but he/she is also the leader of the nation. His/Her office is the office of power, while that of the President is the office of honour, respect and dignity. He/She represents the nation at the international conferences as the head of the government.

The Union Council of Ministers

The Union Council of Ministers
As you have noted above, the 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 consideration.”

The members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the President on the recommendations of the Prime Minster. The Council of Ministers has three categories of Ministers – Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers. These Ministers work as a team under the leadership of the Prime Minister. The Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the President, but they cannot be removed so long as they have the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha, In fact, according to the Constitution, Ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. If the Lok Sabha passes a ‘no-confidence motion’, the entire Council of Ministers including PM has to resign. A no-confidence motion is a legislative motion brought by the members of the Lok Sabha, expressing lack of trust in the Council of Ministers. That is why, it is said that the ministers swim and sink together.

Regarding the functions of the Council of Ministers, these are the same as those of the Prime Minister. The proceedings of the Cabinet or Council of Ministers are kept secret. The Council of Ministers is a large body of Ministers. We have seen during recent years, the top category, known as the Ministers of Cabinet rank are about 20 to 25 and they hold the charge of important departments. Then there is a group of ministers, called Ministers of State, some of them hold independent charges of ministries while others are attached to Cabinet Ministers. Yet another category of ministers known as Deputy Ministers are attached to Cabinet Ministers or Ministers of State. The Cabinet meeting is attended only by the Ministers of Cabinet rank, but if need be the Ministers of State also may be invited to attend such meetings.

Position of the Prime Minister

In the background of the above discussion, it is obvious that the Prime Minister occupies a key position in the Union government. He/She is the ‘principal spokesperson’ and defender of the policies of the government in the Parliament. The Council of Ministers functions as his/her team. The nation looks to him/her for needed policies and programmes and required actions. All international agreements and treaties with other countries are concluded with the consent of the Prime Minister. He/She has a special status both in the government and in the Parliament. The Prime Minister chooses his team (Council of Ministers) very carefully and gets willing cooperation from them. However, it is true that in a coalition government the Prime Minister has to seek help from like-minded political parties. The experience of the last ten to twelve years has shown that in such a scenario he/she has to be very vigilant and diplomatic. He/She has to take major decisions regarding the defense and security of the country. He/She has to formulate policies not only for providing better living conditions but also to maintain peace, friendly relations with the neighboring countries. It is because of the facts mentioned above that the Prime Minister is the keystone of the cabinet arch.

Real Executive Authority

As the President of India is a constitutional executive head, the real executive authority of the Union is exercised by the Prime Minister and his council of ministers.

The Prime Minister

The office of the Prime Minister has been created by the Constitution. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President (Article 75). Generally, the President has no choice in the appointment of the Prime Minister and invites the leader of the majority political party) in the Lok Sabha for this office. The Prime Minister theoretically holds office during the pleasure of the President. But the Prime Minister actually stays in office as long as he enjoys the confidence of the Parliament especially the Lok Sabha. The normal term is five years but it is automatically reduced if the Lok Sabha is dissolved earlier.

The Prime Minister gets the same salary and allowances which are paid to the members of Parliament. He also receives a constituency allowance like other MPs. In addition, he is also entitled to a sumptuary allowance, free official residence, free travel, medical facilities, etc.

Powers The Prime Minister enjoys extensive powers.

  1. The President convenes and prorogues all sessions of the Parliament in consultation with him.
  2. He can recommend the dissolution of Lok Sabha to the President before the expiry of its normal term.
  3. All the members of the council of ministers are appointed by the President on the recommendations of the Prime Minister.
  4. He allocates portfolios among the various ministers and reshuffles them. He can ask a minister to resign and can even get him dismissed by the President.
  5. He presides over the meetings of the council of ministers and exercises a strong influence on its decisions.
  6. He exercises general supervision over the working of other ministers and ensures that they work as a team.
  7. The Prime Minister can bring about the fall of the council of ministers if he resigns. He is the pivot around which the council of ministers revolves.
  8. The Prime Minister is the chief channel of communication between the President and the council of ministers and keeps the former informed about all the decisions of the council.
  9. He assists the President in the appointment of all high officials.
  10. He can recommend to the President, with the concurrence of other cabinet ministers, to proclaim a state of emergency on grounds of war, external aggression or armed rebellion.
  11. He advises the President about the imposition of presidential the rule in the states on grounds of break down of constitutional machinery or imposition of an emergency due to financial instability.

The Prime Minister occupies a position of tremendous influence and prestige. But the position of the Prime Minister depends to a large extent, on his personality and the position of his political party in the Parliament.

PRIME MINISTERS OF INDIA

S.No.NameTenure
1.Jawaharlal Nehru15 August, 1947-27 May, 1964
2.Gulzari Lai Nanda
(Acting)
27 May, 1964-9 June, 1964
3.Lai Bahadur Shastri9 June, 1964-11 January, 1966
4.Gulzari Lai Nanda
(Acting)
11 January, 1966-24 January,
1966
5.Indira Gandhi24 January, 1966-24 March, 1977
6.Morarji Desai24 March, 1977-28 July, 1979
7.Charan Singh28 July, 1979-14 January. 1980
8.Indira Gandhi14 January,1980-31October,
1984
9.Rajiv Gandhi31 October, 1984-2 December,
1989
10.Vishwanath Pratap
Singh
2 December, 1989-
10 November, 1990
11.Chandra Shekhar10 November, 1990-21 June. 1991
12.P.V. Narasimha Rao21 June, 19991-16 May, 1996
13.Atal Bihari Vajpayee16 May, 1996-1 June. 1996
14.H.D, Deve Gowda1 June.1996-21 April, 1997
15.I.K. Gujaral21 April, 1997-19 March, 1998
16.Atal Bihari Vajpayee19 March, 1998-13 October, 1999
17.Atal Bihari Vajpayee13 October, 1999-22 May, 2004
18.Manmohan Singh22 May, 2004-20 May, 2009
19.Manmohan Singh22 May, 2009-May 16, 2014
20.Narendra Modi26 May, 2014-Till date.

Deputy Prime Minister

The post of Deputy Prime Minister is not known to the Constitution, although seven persons have occupied this post since the inauguration of the Constitution. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in Nehru’s ministry. Morarji Desai. was Deputy Prime Minister under Indira Gandhi. He was imposed on her by the Syndicate Congress. Charan Singh and Jagjivan Ram were given this position in Morarji Desai s ministry to defuse the crisis in the Janata Party. Y.B. Chavan served as Deputy Prime Minister during the brief tenure of Charan Singh. Devi Lai became Deputy Prime Minister in V.P. Singh’s Janata Dal government of 1989. Finally, Lai Krishan Advani was designated as Deputy Prime Minister by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 29 June 2002. L.K. Advani. as Deputy Prime Minister, also continued to look after the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Deputy Prime Minister occupies position next to the Prime Minister. He assists the Prime Minister and discharges his duties when he is not available. It may be observed that the Administrative Reforms Commission of India (1966-70) in its Report on the Machinery of Government and its Procedure of Work recommended the creation of the post of Deputy Prime Minister to ensure the effective functioning of the governmental machinery. It suggested that the Prime Minister could allot to the Deputy Prime Minister such tasks and ad hoc assignments as he considers appropriate in order to reduce his workload. lt may be noted that under the Manmohan Singh led government formed in 2004 as well as 2009 the post of Deputy Prime Minister has not been filled.

Council of Ministers

The Constitution provides for a council of ministers under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Under the original Constitution the council of ministers was expected to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. There was nothing in the Constitution to suggest that the President was bound by the advice of the council of ministers. In 1976, the Constitution was amended and it was stipulated that the President in the exercise of his functions shall act in accordance with the advice of the council of ministers (Article 74).

The council of ministers consists of three types of ministers—ministers of cabinet rank, ministers of state and deputy ministers. The ministers of cabinet rank usually hold independent charge of a department and are considered as superior to ministers of other ranks. The ministers of state can either hold independent charge of a department or be attached to a minister of cabinet rank. The deputy ministers generally do not hold separate charge of a department and arc attached to the cabinet or state ministers.

The formation of this council starts with the appointment of the Prime Minister. The President then appoints other members of the council of ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS AND CABINET

The terms Council of Ministers and Cabinet are often used for each other. However, they differ from each other in following respects.

  1. In comparison with the Cabinet, the Council of Ministers is a bigger body consisting of 60 to 70 members. On the other hand, the Cabinet has only 15 to 20 members.
  2. All policy decisions are taken by the Cabinet and the Council of Ministers merely implements those decisions.
  3. The Council of Ministers comprises of three types of ministers viz. Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers, and Deputy Ministers. The Cabinet, on the other hand, consists of only Cabinet Ministers.
  4. The Constitution vests all the powers in the Council of Ministers, but actually, these powers are exercised by the Cabinet.
  5. The Cabinet determines the functions to be performed
    by the various ministers.
  6. The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha and the Cabinet enforces this responsibility.
  7. The Council of Ministers as a body seldom meets to discharge its responsibilities. On the other hand, the Cabinet holds weekly meetings to discharge the government work.
  8. Throughout the Constitution, the term Council of Ministers has been used. Only in Article 352, the term Cabinet has been used, and that too was added by the 44th Amendment. This Article stipulates that the President can make a declaration of National Emergency only on the written recommendation of the Cabinet.

Generally, the Prime Minister includes all prominent leaders of his party in the council. The members must be members of either house of the Parliament. However, if a person who is not a member of either house is appointed, he must become a member of either house within six months. Failing this, he ceases to be a member of the council of ministers. The council is collectively responsible to the Parliament and a vote of no-confidence against any minister automatically leads to the resignation of the entire council.

In September 2006 the salary and allowances of the members of Council of Ministers were revised. At present they draw a monthly salary of Rs 16.000; Constituency Allowance of Rs 20.000 per month: allowance for attending sessions of parliament and Panel meetings at the rate of Rs 1000; pension of Rs 6000 per month: road travel within the constituency at Rs 12 per km; 34 free air tickets per year; unlimited train travel; free accommodation with 50.000 units of electricity and 4000 kilolitres of water; medical expenses; office expenses of 1.68,000 per annum. In addition, the Cabinet, State, and Deputy Minister’s arc entitle to the sumptuary allowance at various rates. The right of Parliament to allow members of Parliament to draw the pension after he ceases to hold people’s mandate was challenged on the ground that the Constitution does not contain any provision for the pension for the ex-lawmakers. However, the five-judge bench of Supreme Court upheld the right of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act. 1976, and permit the MPs and MLAs to draw pension once they cease to hold people’s mandate.

Collective Responsibility The council of ministers is collectively responsible (Article 75) to the Lok Sabha and has to resign as soon as it loses the confidence of Lok Sabha. Even a vote of no confidence against a single minister by the Lok Sabha is taken as a vote of no confidence against the entire council of ministers and entails its resignation. The principle of collective responsibility also implies that the ministers are expected not to air their differences in public. If a member of the council of ministers does not agree with its decision, he should tender his resignation. In addition to the collective responsibility, each minister is also individually responsible for his department and can be removed from his office by the President (on the advice of Prime Minister) even if he enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

Powers The council of ministers enjoys the follow ing powers:

  1. It formulates the policies of the country on the basis of which the administration is carried on.
  2. It introduces all important bills and resolutions in the Parliament and pilots them through.
  3. It presents the budget of the country before the Parliament through the Lok Sabha. Though Parliament can modify the budget, it is generally passed in the form in which it is presented.
  4. It determines the foreign policy of the country and the kind of relations it should have with other powers. All diplomatic appointments are made by the President on the recommendation of the council of ministers. The council also approves the international agreements and treaties.
  5. Cabinet members of the council of ministers render advice to the President regarding the proclamation of emergency on grounds of war. external aggression or armed rebellion.

In the scheme of the parliamentary system of government provided by the constitution, the President is the nominal executive authority (de jure executive) and Prime Minister is the real executive authority (de facto executive). In other words, the president is the head of the State while the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

APPOINTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER

The Constitution does not contain any specific procedure for the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. Article 75 says only that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the president. However, this does not imply that the president is free to appoint anyone as the Prime Minister. In accordance with the conventions of the parliamentary system of government, the President has to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister. In such a situation, the President usually appoints the leader of the largest party or coalition in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister and asks him to seek a vote of confidence in the House within a month. This discretion was exercised by the President, for the first time in 1979, when Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (the then President) appointed Charan Singh (the coalition leader) as the Prime Minister after the fall of the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai.

There is also one more situation when the president may have to exercise his individual judgment in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister, that is when the Prime Minister in office dies suddenly and there is no obvious successor. This is what happened when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. The then President Zail Singh appointed Rajiv Gandhi as the Prime Minister by ignoring the precedent of appointing a caretaker Prime Minister.1 Later on, the Congress parliamentary party unanimously elected him as its leader. However, if, on the death of an incumbent Prime Minister, the ruling party elects a new leader, the President has no choice but to appoint him as Prime Minister.

In 1980, the Delhi High Court held that the Constitution does not require that a person must prove his majority in the Lok Sabha before he is appointed as the Prime Minister. The President May first appoint him the Prime Minister and then ask him to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a reasonable period. For example, Charan Singh (1979), VP Singh (1989), Chandrasekhar (1990), PV Narasimha Rao (1991), AB Vajyapee (1996), Deve Gowda (1996), IK Gujral (1997) and again AB Vajpayee (1998) were appointed as Prime Ministers in this way.

In 1997, the Supreme Court held that a person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister for six months, within which, he should become a member of either House of Parliament; otherwise, he ceases to be the Prime Minister.

Constitutionally, the Prime Minister may be a member of any of the two Houses of parliament. For example, three Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi (1966), Deve Gowda (1996) and Manmohan Singh (2004), were members of the Rajya Sabha. In Britain, on the other hand, the Prime Minister should definitely be a member of the Lower House (House of Commons).

OATH, TERM AND SALARY

Before the Prime Minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the Prime Minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

In his oath of secrecy, the Prime Minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a Union Minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the president. However, this does not mean that the president can dismiss the Prime Minister at any time. So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.

The salary and allowances of the Prime Minister are determined by the Parliament from time to time. He gets the salary and allowances that are payable to a member of Parliament. Additionally, he gets a sumptuary allowance, free accommodation, traveling allowance, medical facilities, etc. In 2001, the Parliament increased his sumptuary allowance from 1,500 to3,000 per month.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE PRIME MINISTER

The powers and functions of Prime Minister can be studied under the following heads:

In Relation to Council of Ministers

The Prime Minister enjoys the following powers as head of the Union council of ministers:

  1. He recommends persons who can be appointed as ministers by the president. The President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime Minister.
  2. He allocates and reshuffles various portfolios among the ministers.
  3. He can ask a minister to resign or advise the President to dismiss him in case of difference of opinion.
  4. He presides over the meeting of council of ministers and influences its decisions.
  5. He guides, directs, controls, and coordinates the activities of all the ministers.
  6. He can bring about the collapse of the council of ministers by resigning from office.

Since the Prime Minister stands at the head of the council of ministers, the other ministers cannot function when the Prime Minister resigns or dies. In other words, the resignation or death of an incumbent Prime Minister automatically dissolves the council of ministers and thereby generates a vacuum. The resignation or death of any other minister, on the other hand, merely creates a vacancy which the Prime Minister may or may not like to fill.

In Relation to the President

The Prime Minister enjoys the following powers in relation to the President:

  1. He is the principal channel of communication between the President and the council of ministers. It is the duty of the prime minister :
    (a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
    (b) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for; and
    (c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.
  2. He advises the president with regard to the appointment of important officials like attorney general of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, chairman and members of the UPSC, election commissioners, chairman and members of the finance commission and so on.

In Relation to Parliament

The Prime Minister is the leader of the Lower House. In this capacity, he enjoys the following powers:

  1. He advises the President with regard to summoning and proroguing of the sessions of the Parliament.
  2. He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to President at any time.
  3. He announces government policies on the floor of the House.

Other Powers & Functions

In addition to the above-mentioned three major roles, the Prime Minister has various other roles. These are:

  1. He is the chairman of the Planning Commission, National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council and National Water Resources Council.
  2. He plays a significant role in shaping the foreign policy of the country.
  3. He is the chief spokesman of the Union government.
  4. He is the crisis manager-in-chief at the political level during emergencies.
  5. As a leader of the nation, he meets various sections of people in different states and receives memoranda from them regarding their problems, and so on.
  6. He is leader of the party in power.
  7. He is political head of the services.

Thus, the Prime Minister plays a very significant and highly crucial role in the politico-administrative system of the country. Dr. B R Ambedkar stated, ‘If any functionary under our constitution is to be compared with the US president, he is the Prime Minister and not the president of the Union’.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PRESIDENT

The following provisions of the Constitution deal with the relationship between the President and the Prime Minister:

  1. Article 74 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. However, the President may require the council of ministers to reconsider such advice and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
  2. Article 75 (a) The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other ministers shall be appointed by the president on the advice of the Prime Minister; (b) The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the president, and (c) The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People.
  3. Article 78 It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister:
    (a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation;
    (b) to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for; and
    (c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the council of ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but which has not been considered by the council.

CHIEF MINISTERS WHO BECAME PRIME MINISTERS

Five people—Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, V.P. Singh, P.V. Narasimha Rao, and H.D. Deve Gowda —became Prime Ministers after being Chief Ministers of their respective States. Morarji Desai, Chief Minister of the erstwhile Bombay State during 1952–56, became the first non-Congress Prime Minister in March 1977. Charan Singh, who succeeded him, was the Chief Minister of the undivided Uttar Pradesh in 1967–1968 and again in 1970. V.P. Singh, also from U.P., became Prime Minister in the short-lived National Front government (December 1989-November 1990). P.V. Narasimha Rao, the first Prime Minister from South India, who held the post from 1991–1996, was Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1971–1973. H.D. Deve Gowda was Chief Minister of Karnataka when he was chosen to lead the United Front government in June 1996.

Articles Related to Prime Minister at a Glance

Article No.Subject-matter
Article 74.Council of Ministers to aid and advise President
Article 75.Other provisions as to Ministers
Article 77.Conduct of business of the Government of India
Article 78.Duties of Prime Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the President, etc.

As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government modeled on the British pattern, the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority is our politico-administrative system.

The principles of the parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution, but two Articles (74 and 75) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner. Article 74 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

Article 74—Council of Ministers to aid and advise President

  1. 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. However, the President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration.
  2. The advice tendered by Ministers to the President shall not be inquired into in any court.

Article 75—Other Provisions as to Ministers

  1. The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be
    appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  2. The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall
    not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. The provision was added by the 91st
    Amendment Act of 2003.
  3. A member of either house of Parliament belonging to any political party who is disqualified
    on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister. This
    provision was also added by the 91st Amendment Act of 2003.
  4. The ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.
  5. The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
  6. The President shall administer the oaths of office and secrecy to a minister.
  7. A minister who is not a member of the Parliament (either house) for any period of six
    consecutive months shall cease to be a minister.
  8. The salaries and allowances of ministers shall be determined by the Parliament.

Article 77—Conduct of Business of the Government of India

  1. All executive action of the Government of India shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President.
  2. Orders and other instruments made and executed in the name of the President shall be authenticated in such manner as may be specified in rules to be made by the President. Further, the validity of an order or instrument which is so authenticated shall not be called in question on the ground that it is not an order or instrument made or executed by the President.
  3. The President shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business.

Article 78—Duties of Prime Minister

It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister

  1. To communicate to the President all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation
  2. To furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may call for
  3. If the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the Council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the Council

NATURE OF ADVICE BY MINISTERS

Article 74 provides for a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The 42nd and 44th Constitutional Amendment Acts have made the advice binding on the President.1 Further, the nature of advice tendered by ministers to the President cannot be enquired by any court. This provision emphasizes the intimate and confidential relationship between the President and the ministers.

In 1971, the Supreme Court held that ‘even after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers does not cease to hold office. Article 74 is mandatory and, therefore, the president cannot exercise the executive power without the aid and advise of the council of ministers. Any exercise of executive power without the aid and advice will be unconstitutional as being violative of Article 74’. Again in 1974, the court held that ‘wherever the Constitution requires the satisfaction of the President, the satisfaction is not the personal satisfaction of the President but it is the satisfaction of the council of ministers with whose aid and on whose advice the President exercises his powers and functions’.

APPOINTMENT OF MINISTERS

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, while the other ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. This means that the President can appoint only those persons as ministers who are recommended by the Prime minister.

Usually, the members of Parliament, either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, are appointed as ministers. A person who is not a member of either House of Parliament can also be appointed as a minister. But, within six months, he must become a member (either by election or by nomination) of either House of Parliament, otherwise, he ceases to be a minister.

A minister who is a member of one House of Parliament has the right to speak and to take part in the proceedings of the other House also, but he can vote only in the House of which he is a member.

Oath and Salary of Ministers

Before a minister enters upon his office, the president administers to him the oaths of office and secrecy. In his oath of office, the minister swears:

  1. to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India,
  2. to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. to faithfully and conscientiously discharge the duties of his office, and
  4. to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

In his oath of secrecy, the minister swears that he will not directly or indirectly communicate or reveal to any person(s) any matter that is brought under his consideration or becomes known to him as a Union minister except as may be required for the due discharge of his duties as such minister.

In 1990, the oath by Devi Lal as deputy prime minister was challenged as being unconstitutional as the Constitution provides only for the Prime Minister and ministers. The Supreme Court upheld the oath as valid and stated that describing a person as Deputy Prime Minister is descriptive only and such description does not confer on him any powers of Prime Minister. It ruled that the description of a minister as Deputy Prime Minister or any other type of ministers such as minister of state or deputy minister of which there is no mention in the Constitution does not vitiate the oath taken by him so long as the substantive part of the oath is correct.

The salaries and allowances of ministers are determined by Parliament from time to time. A minister gets the salary and allowances that are payable to a member of Parliament. Additionally, he gets a sumptuary allowance (according to his rank), free accommodation, traveling allowance, medical facilities, etc. In 2001, the sumptuary allowance for the prime minister was raised from 1,500 to 3,000 per month, for a cabinet minister from 1,000 to2,000 per month, for a minister of state from 500 to1,000 per month and for a deputy minister from 300 to600 per month.

RESPONSIBILITY OF MINISTERS

Collective Responsibility

The fundamental principle underlying the working of the parliamentary system of government is the principle of collective responsibility. Article 75 clearly states that the council of ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the Lok Sabha for all their acts of commission and commission. They work as a team and swim or sink together. When the Lok Sabha passes a no-confidence motion against the council of ministers, all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha. Alternatively, the council of ministers can advise the president to dissolve the Lok Sabha on the ground that the House does not represent the views of the electorate faithfully and call for fresh elections. The President may not oblige the council of ministers that has lost the confidence of the Lok Sabha.

The principle of collective responsibility also means that the Cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers (and other ministers) even if they differed in the cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside the Parliament. If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it, he must resign. Several ministers have resigned in the past owing to their differences with the cabinet. For example, Dr. BR Ambedkar resigned because of his differences with his colleagues on the Hindu Code Bill in 1953. CD Deshmukh resigned due to his differences on the policy of reorganization of states. Arif Mohammed resigned due to his opposition to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

Individual Responsibility

Article 75 also contains the principle of individual responsibility. It states that the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the president, which means that the President can remove a minister even at a time when the council of ministers enjoys the confidence of the Lok Sabha. However, the President removes a minister only on the advice of the Prime Minister. In case of a difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister, the Prime Minister can ask him to resign or advice the President to dismiss him. By exercising this power, the Prime Minister can ensure the realization of the rule of collective responsibility. In this context, Dr. B R Ambedkar observed:

“Collective responsibility can be achieved only through the instrumentality of the Prime Minister. Therefore, unless and until we create that office and endow that office with statutory authority to nominate and dismiss ministers, there can be no collective responsibility.”

No Legal Responsibility

In Britain, every order of the King for any public act is countersigned by a minister. If the order is in violation of any law, the minister would be held responsible and would be liable in the court. The legally accepted phrase in Britain is, “The king can do no wrong.” Hence, he cannot be sued in any court.

In India, on the other hand, there is no provision in the Constitution for the system of legal responsibility of a minister. It is not required that an order of the President for a public action should be countersigned by a minister. Moreover, the courts are barred from inquiring into the nature of advice rendered by the ministers to the president.

COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS

The council of ministers consists of three categories of ministers, namely, cabinet ministers, ministers of state,5 and deputy ministers. The difference between them lies in their respective ranks, emoluments, and political importance. At the top of all these ministers stands the Prime Minister—the supreme governing authority of the country.

The cabinet ministers head the important ministries of the Central government like home, defence, finance, external affairs and so forth. They are members of the cabinet, attend its meetings and play an important role in deciding policies. Thus, their responsibilities extend over the entire gamut of the Central government.

The ministers of state can either be given independent charge of ministries/departments or can be attached to cabinet ministers. In case of attachment, they may either be given the charge of departments of the ministries headed by the cabinet ministers or allotted specific items of work related to the ministries headed by cabinet ministers. In both cases, they work under the supervision and guidance as well as under the overall charge and responsibility of the cabinet ministers. In case of an independent charge, they perform the same functions and exercise the same powers in relation to their ministries/departments as cabinet ministers do. However, they are not members of the cabinet and do not attend the cabinet meetings unless specially invited when something related to their ministries/departments is considered by the cabinet.

Next, in rank are the deputy ministers. They are not given independent charge of ministries/departments. They are attached to the cabinet ministers or ministers of state and assist them in their administrative, political, and parliamentary duties. They are not members of the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings.

It must also be mentioned here that there is one more category of ministers, called parliamentary secretaries. They are the members of the last category of the council of ministers (which is also known as the ‘ministry’). They have no department under their control. They are attached to the senior ministers and assist them in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. However, since 1967, no parliamentary secretaries have been appointed except during the first phase of Rajiv Gandhi Government.

At times, the council of ministers may also include a deputy prime minister. Thus Sardar Patel in Pandit Nehru’s ministry, Morarji Desai in the Indira Gandhi’s Ministry, Charan Singh in the Morarji Desai’s ministry, Jagjivan Ram in the Charan Singh’s ministry, Devi Lal in the VP Singh’s ministry and L.K. Advani in the AB Vajpayee’s ministry served as deputy prime ministers. The deputy prime ministers are appointed mostly for political reasons.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS VS CABINET

The words ‘council of ministers’ and ‘cabinet’ are often used interchangeably though there is a definite distinction between them. They differ from each other in respects of composition, functions, and role. These differences are shown in Table 20.1.

Distinction Between Council of Ministers and Cabinet

Council of ministersCabinet
1. It is a wider body consisting of 60 to 70 ministers.1. It is a smaller body consisting of 15 to 20 ministers.
2. It includes all the three categories of ministers, that is, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers.2. It includes the cabinet ministers only. Thus, it is a part of the council of ministers.

3. It does not meet, as a body, to transact government business. It has no collective functions.

3. It meets, as a body, frequently and usually once in a week to deliberate and take decisions regarding the transaction of government business. Thus, it has collective functions.
4. It is vested with all powers but in theory.

4. It exercises, in practice, the powers of the co-uncil of ministers and thus, acts for the latter.
5. Its functions are determined by the cabinet.


5. It directs the council of ministers by taking policy decisions which are binding on all ministers.
6. It implements the decisions taken by the cabinet.6. It supervises the implementation of its decisions by the council of ministers.
7. It is a constitutional body, dealt in detail by the Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution. Its size and classification are, however, not mentioned in the Constitution. Its size is determined by the prime minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation. Its classification into a three-tier body is based on the conventions of parliamentary government as developed in Britain. It has, however, got a legislative sanction. Thus, the Salaries and Allowances Act of 1952 defines a ‘minister’ as a ‘member of the council of ministers, by whatever name called, and includes a deputy minister’.7. It was inserted in Article 352 of the Constitution in 1978 by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act. Thus, it did not find a place in the original text of the Constitution. Now also, Article 352 only defines the cabinet saying that it is ‘the council consisting of the prime minister and other ministers of cabinet rank appointed under Article 75’ and does not describe its powers and functions. In other words, its role in our politico-administrative system is based on the conventions of parliamentary government
as developed in Britain.


8. It is collectively responsible to the Lower House of the Parliament.

8. It enforces the collective responsibility of the council of ministers to the Lower House of Parliament.

ROLE OF CABINET

  1. It is the highest decision-making authority in our politico-administrative system.
  2. It is the chief policy formulating body of the Central government.
  3. It is the supreme executive authority of the Central government.
  4. It is chief coordinator of Central administration.
  5. It is an advisory body to the president and its advice is binding on him.
  6. It is the chief crisis manager and thus deals with all emergency situations.
  7. It deals with all major legislative and financial matters.
  8. It exercises control over higher appointments like constitutional authorities and senior secretariat administrators.
  9. It deals with all foreign policies and foreign affairs.

KITCHEN CABINET

The cabinet, a small body consisting of the prime minister as its head and some 15 to 20 most important ministers, is the highest decision-making body in the formal sense. However, a still smaller body called the ‘inner Cabinet’ or ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ has become the real center of power. This informal body consists of the Prime Minister and two to four influential colleagues in whom he has faith and with whom he can discuss every problem. It advises the prime minister on important political and administrative issues and assists him in making crucial decisions. It is composed of not only cabinet ministers but also outsiders like friends and family members of the prime minister.

Every prime minister in India has had his ‘Inner Cabinet’—a circle within a circle. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘Inner Cabinet’ consisted of Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, and Kidwai. Lal Bahadur Shastri relied upon YB Chavan, Swaran Singh, and GL Nanda. During the era of Indira Gandhi, the ‘Inner Cabinet’ which came to be called the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ was particularly powerful and consisted of persons like YB Chavan, Uma Shanker Dixit, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Dr. Karan Singh, and others. AB Vajpayee’s ‘inner cabinet’ consisted of LK Advani, George Fernandes, MM Joshi, Pramod Mahajan, and so on.

The prime ministers have resorted to the device of ‘inner cabinet’ (extra-constitutional body) due to its merits, namely:

  1. It being a small unit, is much more efficient decision-making body than a large cabinet.
  2. It can meet more often and deal with business much more expeditiously than the large cabinet.
  3. It helps the Prime Minister in maintaining secrecy in making decisions on important political
    issues.

However, it has many demerits also. Thus,

  1. It reduces the authority and status of the cabinet as the highest decision-making body.
  2. It circumvents the legal process by allowing outside persons to play an influential role in the government functioning.

The phenomenon of ‘kitchen cabinet’ (where decisions are cooked and placed before the cabinet for formal approval) is not unique to India. It also exists in USA and Britain and is quite powerful in influencing government decisions there.

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The President of India

updated on May 22nd, 2019

Related Articles to President of India

Articles
Article 52The President of
India.
Article 53Executive power
of the Union.
Article 54Election of
President.
Article 55Manner of election
of President.
1Subs.
Article 56Term of office of
President.
Article 57Eligibility for reelection.
Article 58Qualifications for
election as
President.
Article 59Conditions of
President’s office.
Article 60Oath or affirmation
by the President.
Article 61Procedure for
impeachment of
the President.
Article 62Time of holding
election to fill
vacancy in the
office of President
and the term of
office of person
elected to fill
casual vacancy.

https://presidentofindia.nic.in/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_India

  • India is known as a Republic. Do you know why? It is because our Head of the State, the President of India is elected. It is not so in Great Britain where the Head of State happens to be either the King or the Queen. The office there is hereditary.

How President of India is elected ?

  • The process of Election of the President The President is indirectly elected by an Electoral College which consists of the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament as well as of State Legislative Assemblies.
  • PS : MLC, members of Legislative council do not vote in Election of the president.
  • Moreover, the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry (earlier known as Pondicherry) also participate in this election.
  • The voting is by secret ballot. She/he is elected according to the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Who vote in the Presidential election ?

  • Elected members of both house of Parliament
  • Elected members of Legislative assemblies of the state
  • Elected members of legislative assemblies of Delhi and Pondicherry(becuase rest five UTs do not own a legislative Assembly )

Who do not vote in Presidential election ?

  • Me , like rest of Indian
  • Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha , as they are nominated members of rajya Sabha . But they will vote in impeachment of President
  • Nominated members state Assemblies

What is the value of a vote in Presidential Election ?

  • Value of vote of an MLA ; Total population(Census 1971) of the State divided by total number of elected MLAs . Divided by 1000 ( to make a number in range of three digits )
  • Value of Vote of an MP ; Total value of votes of all MLAs divided by number of Elected members of Parliament .
  • So each state has a different value for his MLAs , but All MPS have same value for their votes .

What do they mean by Single transferable vote ?

It means everyone votes votes for everyone , they write 1,2,3,4 etc in front of the candidate . The votes with first preferences are counted . if the Quota (more than 50 % here ) is met result is declared , if not than than second preference votes of the candidate securing least votes is opened and its second preferred vote is added to the tally .This exercise is carried untill the Quota is met .

Who Conducts the election ?

Election Commission of India .

Who decides case related to Presidential Election ?

Supreme Court

The election of the President can not be challenged on grounds of incomplete electorates ( like vacant seats or dissolved assemblies .)

If Supreme Court , declares a election void .The actions taken by the President remain as it is .

Thought behind the fashion of presidential election :

No Direct election Since President is nominal head so a direct election seems unnecessary .

Only MPs could Vote? to maintain the federal structure, equal representation of states was taken in mind. So elected members of state legislatures were included in the electoral body of President

Qualifications for election as President


In order to be qualified for election as President, a person must:
(i) be a citizen of India;
(ii) have completed the age of 35 years;
(iii) be qualified for being elected as a member of the House of the People (Lok Sabha); and
(iv) not hold any office of profit under the government of India, any State government or under any local authority or any other authority of the said government.

(v) the following offices are not considered as offices of profit (a) President and Vice-President (b) the governor of a state: (c) minister of union or state.

The name of a candidate for the post of President must be proposed by 50 electors and seconded by at least 50 electors. He has also to deposit a security of Rs 15.000 for contesting elections.

Can the procedure of election of the President of India modify?

Yes The procedure for the election of the President of India can be modified through an Amendment in the Constitution which must be passed by

  • a. two-thirds majority by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and be ratified by the Legislatures of at least half of the states

Term of Office of President of India

The President is elected for a term of five years, but even after the expiry of the term, he/she may continue to hold office until his/her successor enters the office. There is a provision for the re-election of a person who is holding or who has held the office as President. A vacancy in the office of the President may be caused in any of the following ways:
(i) in the event of his/her death;
(ii) if he/she resigns;
(iii) if he/she is removed from office by impeachment.

Impeachment(Article 61 )

( a resolution to remove the President for his/her unconstitutional act need) to be adopted by a special majority of votes in both the Houses of Parliament.

  • As provided in the Constitution, in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the President, the Vice President acts as President until the date on which a new President is elected and enters upon his/her office.
  • But the Vice-President can act as the President for not more than six months.
  • If Vice President is unavailable, then Chief Justice of Supreme Court takes the office of President.
  • If CJI is not present than the senior most judge takes the chair. So we will always have an acting President
  • The emoluments, allowances and privileges of the President are determined by a law passed by the Parliament. (But, his salary is charged from Consolidated Fund of India and Parliament has no power to vote on that.
  • . The President used to get a monthly pay of Rs. 10,000 as per the Constitution. It was raised to Rs. 50,000 in 1998 and again to Rs. 1,50,000 in 2008. He/She also has other perks and allowances and lives in an official residence popularly known as Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
  • The terms of office cannot be downgraded during his tenure. ( another safeguard )

Oath of President of India

Oath Before entering the office, the President has to take an oath or an affirmation in the presence of the Chief Justice of India, or in his absence, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court available. In this oath or affirmation, the President undertakes *to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.’.

Before entering upon his office, the President has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation. In his oath, the President swears:

  1. to faithfully execute the office;
  2. to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law; and
  3. to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.

The oath of office to the President is administered by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available.

Any other person acting as President or discharging the functions of the President also undertakes the similar oath or affirmation.

Do You Know

(i) Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India and held the office for two consecutive terms.
(ii) Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil is the first woman to be elected as the President of India. She is the 12th President of India.
(iii) Till date, only two Presidents who died in office were Dr Zakir Hussain and Mr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

(iv)Mr V. V. Giri and Mr B. D. Jatti who also died in office were Acting Presidents.

Do You Know

(i) The first category of emergency was declared in India for the first time in 1962 due to conflict and war between China and India; the second time it was done on account of Indo-Pak War in 1965. The third national emergency was declared in 1971 when India helped Eastern Pakistan to become an independent nation known as Bangladesh and for the 4th time, in 1975 when the Cabinet headed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi recommended to the President on account of ‘internal disturbances’.
(ii) The imposition of the second category of emergency is considered to have provided extra-ordinary power to the Union government. The first such emergency was proclaimed in 1951 in the State of Punjab, and then in Kerala in 1959. With the passage of time, this power has been used with increasing frequency. It has been alleged that President’s Rule has been used to dislodge the State governments of parties other than the party in power at the Centre. Article 356 deals with this type of emergency, which includes the imposition of President’s Rule over a State of India. When a State is under President’s Rule, the elected State government is suspended, and administration is conducted directly by the Governor of the State. Article 356 is controversial because some people consider it undemocratic, as its provides too much power to the Centre over the State governments. After the landmark case of S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the misuse of Article 356 was curtailed by the Supreme Court, which established strict guidelines for imposing President’s Rule.


Have you observed that when the functioning of Union government is discussed either in the Parliament or in the newspapers or on television, the roles of the Prime Minister and the Ministers are often discussed? But we have seen earlier that the Constitution vests all executive powers in the President. He/She also has extensive emergency powers. Does this mean that the President is all powerful? No! In reality, the President is a nominal executive or a constitutional Head of the State. No doubt the government is run in his/her name, but according to the Indian Constitution, the President has to exercise his/her powers on the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. And that is not a simple advice, but is binding. This indicates that the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are the real rulers in the government. All decisions are taken by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The President has the right to be informed of those decisions. Similarly, the emergency provisions also do not grant any real powers to the President.

“Under the Constitution of India the President occupies the same position as the King/Queen under the British Constitution. He is head of the state but not the executive. He represents the nation but does not rule the nation. He is the symbol of the nation. His place in the administration is that of a ceremonial head on whose seal the nation’s decisions are made known.”
D


Dr B. R. Ambedkar (in the Constituent Assembly)

Is President of India a Rubber Stamp ?

In light of the above statement, some constitutional experts believe that the President can be compared with a ‘rubber stamp’. But this conclusion is also not true. The President has been given the task of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution. He/She is the custodian of the democratic process as enshrined in the Constitution. In uncertain political situations, the President can play a decisive role in the formation of the government. There have been some occasions when the President has asserted his/her position. However, in practice, the President acts as a nominal or constitutional head. It has rightly been stated that in our constitutional system the President enjoys the highest honour, dignity, and prestige but not the real authority.

The President is the executive head of the state. The Constitution vests all the executive powers of the Union The government in him. He exercises these powers either directly himself or through officers subordinate to him.


PRESIDENTS OF INDIA

S.No.NameTenure
1.Dr. Rajendra Prasad26 January,1950-13 May,1962
2.Dr. S. Radhakrishnan13 May, 1962-13 May, 1967
3.Dr. Zakir Husain13 May, 1967-3 May, 1969
4.V.V. Giri

3 May, 1969-20 July, 1969
(Acting)
5.Justice Mohammad
Hidayatullah
20 July, 1969-24 August, 1969
(Acting)
6.V.V. Giri24 August, 1969-24 August, 1974
7.Fakhruddin Ali
Ahmed
24 August, 1974-11
February, 1977
8.B.D. Jatti

11 February,1977-25 July, 1977
(Acting)
9.Neelam Sanjiva Reddy25 July, 1977-25 July, 1982
10.Giani Zail Singh25 July, 1982-25 July, 1987
11.R. Venkataraman25 July, 1987-25 July, 1992
12.Dr. Shanker Dayal
Sharma
25 July, 1992-25 July, 1997

13.K.R. Narayanan25 July, 1997-25 July, 2002
14.Dr. A.P.J. Abdul
Kalam
25 July, 2002-25 July, 2007

15.Pratibha Patil25 July, 2007-24th July, 2012
16.Pranab Mukherjee25th July, 2012-24th July 2017

17. Ramnath Kovind 25 july 2017 – till date

Position of the President

Under the parliamentary system of government adopted in India, the President is expected to act as a constitutional ruler. The Constitution provides a council of ministers with the Prime Minister at its head, to aid and advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The original Constitution did not specify whether the President was bound by the advice of the council of ministers or not. even though it was implied that as a matter of convention prevailing under the parliamentary system of government in England, the President would act on the advice of the council of ministers. This ambiguity was removed by the 42nd Amendment which clearly stated that the President shall be bound by the advice of the council of ministers. As a result of this change, the President was even denied the role of an advisor or a guide. The position of the President was somewhat retrieved under the 44th Amendment in 1978 which provided that the President can ask 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. Thus the amendment recognised the limited but essential role of the President under the Constitution. He is still able to exercise a considerable amount of influence on policy. He enjoys (as does the English king or queen—See Bagehot: English Constitution) the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn. In a number of cases, the President is still able to make use of his discretionary powers. This includes (i) appointment of a Prime Minister if no single political party enjoys clear-cut majority or does not possess a recognised leader of the party, (ii) dissolution of the Lok Sabha and holding of fresh elections in the event of recommendation of the Council of Ministers after it has been voted out and tendered its resignation; (iii) in the exercise of pocket veto in respect of law passed by the Parliament, (iv) disqualifications of members of the Lok Sabha (v) asking the Council of Ministers to reconsider its decision, (vi) asking the Parliament to reconsider a bill passed by it.

Further, the nomination of a candidate for election to the office of President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. Every candidate has to make a security deposit of Rs 15,000 in the Reserve Bank of India. The security deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure one-sixth of the votes polled. Before 1997, the number of proposers and seconders was ten each and the amount of security deposit was Rs 2,500. In 1997, they were increased to discourage non-serious candidates.

Conditions of President’s Office

The Constitution lays down the following conditions of the President’s office:

  1. He should not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the state legislature. If any such person is elected as President, he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as President.
  2. He should not hold any other office of profit.
  3. He is entitled, without payment of rent, to the use of his official residence (the Rastrapathi Bhavan).
  4. He is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament.
  5. His emoluments and allowances cannot be diminished during his term of office.

In 2008, the Parliament increased the salary of the President from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1.50 lakh per month and the pension to 50% of his salary per month. In addition, the former Presidents are entitled to furnished residence, phone facilities, car, medical treatment, travel facility, secretarial staff, and office expenses to Rs. 60,000 per annum. The spouse of a deceased President is also entitled to a family pension at the rate of 50% of the pension of a retired President, furnished residence, phone facility, car, medical treatment, travel facility, secretarial staff and office expenses up to Rs.12,000 per annum.

The President is entitled to a number of privileges and immunities. He enjoys personal immunity from legal liability for his official acts. During his term of office, he is immune from any criminal proceedings, even in respect of his personal acts. He cannot be arrested or imprisoned. However, after giving two months’ notice, civil proceedings can be instituted against him during his term of office in respect of his personal acts.

TERM, IMPEACHMENT AND VACANCY

Term of President’s office

The 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 Vice- President. Further, he can also be removed from the office before completion of his term by the process of impeachment.

The President can hold office beyond his term of five years until his successor assumes charge. He is also eligible for re-election to that office. He may be elected for any number of terms. However, in the USA, a person cannot be elected to the office of the President more than twice.

Impeachment of President

The President can be removed from office by a process of impeachment for ‘violation of the Constitution’. However, the Constitution does not define the meaning of the phrase ‘violation of the Constitution’.

The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament. These charges should be signed by one-fourth members of the House (that framed the charges), and a 14 days’ notice should be given to the President. After the impeachment resolution is passed by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of that House, it is sent to the other House, which should investigate the charges. The President has the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation. If the other House also sustains the charges and passes the impeachment resolution by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership, then the President stands removed from his office from the date on which the bill is so passed.

Thus, an impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure in the Parliament. In this context, two things should be noted: (a) the nominated members of either House of Parliament can participate in the impeachment of the President though they do not participate in his election; (b) the elected members of the legislative assemblies of states and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the impeachment of the President though they participate in his election.

No President has so far been impeached.

Vacancy in the President’s Office

A vacancy in the President’s office can occur in any of the following ways:

  1. On the expiry of his tenure of five years.
  2. By his resignation.
  3. On his removal by the process of impeachment.
  4. By his death.
  5. Otherwise, for example, when he becomes disqualified to hold office or when his election is declared void.

When the vacancy is going to be caused by the expiration of the term of the sitting President, an election to fill the vacancy must be held before the expiration of the term. In case of any delay in conducting the election of new President by any reason, the outgoing President continues to hold office (beyond his term of five years) until his successor assumes charge. This is provided by the Constitution in order to prevent an ‘interregnum’. In this situation, the Vice-President does not get the opportunity to act as President or to discharge the functions of the President.

If the office falls vacant by resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the election to fill the vacancy should be held within six months from the date of the occurrence of such a vacancy. The newly elected President remains in office for a full term of five years from the date he assumes charge of his office.

When a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the Vice-President acts as the President until a new President is elected. Further, when the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office.

In case the office of Vice-President is vacant, the Chief Justice of India (or if his office is also vacant, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available) acts as the President or discharges the functions of the President.

When any person, ie, Vice-President, chief justice of India, or the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court is acting as the President or discharging the functions of the President, he enjoys all the powers and immunities of the President and is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as are determined by the Parliament.

POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT

The powers enjoyed and the functions performed by the President can be studied under the following heads.

  1. Executive powers
  2. Legislative powers
  3. Financial powers
  4. Judicial powers
  5. Diplomatic powers
  6. Military powers
  7. Emergency powers

Executive Powers

The executive powers and functions of the President are:

(a) All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
(b) He can make rules specifying the manner in which the orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated.
(c) He can make rules for the more convenient transaction of business of the Union government, and for allocation of the said business among the ministers.
(d) He appoints the prime minister and the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.
(e) He appoints the attorney general of India and determines his remuneration. The attorney general holds office during the pleasure of the President.
(f) He appoints the comptroller and auditor general of India, the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of finance commission, and so on.
(g) He can seek any information relating to the administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the prime minister.
(h) He can require the Prime Minister to submit, for consideration of the council of ministers, any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but, which has not been considered by the council.
(i) He can appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of SCs, STs and other backward classes.
(j) He can appoint an inter-state council to promote Centre-state and inter-state cooperation.
(k) He directly administers the union territories through administrators appointed by him.
(l) He can declare any area as scheduled area and has powers with respect to the administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas.

Legislative Powers

The President is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers.

(a) He can summon or prorogue the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha. He can also summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
(b) He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year.
(c) He can send messages to the Houses of Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise.
(d) He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant.
(e) He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service.
(f) He can nominate two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community.
(g) He decides on questions as to disqualifications of members of the Parliament, in consultation with the Election Commission.
(h) His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bills in the Parliament. For example, a bill involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, or a bill for the alteration of boundaries of states or creation of a new state.
(i) When a bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can:
(i) give his assent to the bill, or
(ii) withhold his assent to the bill, or
(iii) return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.
However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.
(j) When a bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the governor for consideration of the President, the President can:
(i) give his assent to the bill, or
(ii) withhold his assent to the bill, or
(iii) direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature. It should be noted here that it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration.
(k) He can promulgate ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the Parliament within six weeks from its reassembly. He can also withdraw an ordinance at any time.
(l) He says the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Union Public Service Commission, Finance Commission, and others, before the Parliament.
(m) He can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In the case of Puducherry also, the President can legislate by making regulations but only when the assembly is suspended or dissolved.

Financial Powers

The financial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) Money bills can be introduced in the Parliament only with his prior recommendation.
(b) He causes to be laid before the Parliament the annual financial statement (ie, the Union Budget).
(c) No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation.
(d) He can make advances out of the contingency fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
(e) He constitutes a finance commission every five years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the states.

Judicial Powers

The judicial powers and functions of the President are:

(a) He appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of Supreme Court and high courts.
(b) He can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact. However, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.
(c) He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite, and remission of punishment, or suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense
(i) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
(ii) In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union law; and
(iii) In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Diplomatic Powers

The international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. However, they are subject to the approval of the Parliament. He represents India in international forums and affairs and sends and receives diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners, and so on.

Military Powers

He is the supreme commander of the defence forces of India. In that capacity, he appoints the chiefs of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. He can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of the Parliament.

Emergency Powers

In addition to the normal powers mentioned above, the Constitution confers extraordinary powers on the President to deal with the following three types of emergencies9:
(a) National Emergency (Article 352);
(b) President’s Rule (Article 356 & 365); and
(c) Financial Emergency (Article 360)

We have discussed so far the powers of the President of India that is exercised during a normal period. Over and above these powers, he/she has important powers that are exercised during abnormal situations. These are known as emergency powers. The Constitution has made provisions for these powers to meet three specific extraordinary or abnormal situations arising in the country. These situations may be:

(a) war or external aggression or armed rebellion; (b) failure of the Constitutional machinery in any State; and (c) Deep financial crisis.

(i) War, External Aggression or Armed rebellion: A ‘proclamation of emergency’ is made by the President, if he/she is satisfied that the security of India or any part thereof is threatened by war, external aggression or armed rebellion. However, the President issues such a proclamation, only when a decision of the Union Cabinet, (the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the Cabinet rank,) to that effect is communicated to him/her in writing. Every proclamation is to be laid before two Houses of Parliament and if it is not approved within one month, it automatically ceases to operate. With the proclamation of emergency, the Union government can give directions to the State governments in respect of their executive powers and the Parliament may assume legislative powers of State legislatures. The President may also order the suspension of the enforcement of fundamental rights.

In 1975, an emergency was declared by the President because of the threat to internal security when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. It has continued to be very controversial, and even now many people consider it as a black period in the history of democratic India. Collect information about the reasons for declaration of that emergency from books or through internet, your teachers and other informed adults.

(a) Based on the collected information, do you think the declaration was justified? Please provide at least two reasons.
(b) Based on your conversation with an adult who has been through this emergency, write at least 2 ways in which the emergency impacted the lives of ordinary citizens.

(ii) The second type of emergency relates to the situation in the State. It may be proclaimed when the constitutional machinery of any State breaks down. If the President is satisfied on the basis of the report of the Governor or otherwise that the State cannot be administered in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, he/she can proclaim an emergency. This is known as the President’s Rule. Such a proclamation must be approved by both the Houses of Parliament within two months. If the Parliament’s approval is not obtained, it ceases to operate at the expiry of two months. After Parliament’s approval it may continue for not more than six months at a time and by no means for more than three years. During this period the concerned State Assembly is either dissolved or remains suspended. The Governor of the State performs all the executive functions in the name of the President. The Parliament assumes legislative powers for that particular State.

(iii) The third type of emergency, which is called ‘financial emergency’ is declared when a situation arises whereby the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the country is threatened. Like the other two emergencies, this proclamation also must be approved by Parliament within two months. Once it is approved by the Parliament, it may continue indefinitely until it is revoked. In this situation, the President can reduce the salaries of all the government officials including the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The financial emergency has not been proclaimed in India so far.

Do You Know

(i) The first category of emergency was declared in India for the first time in 1962 due to conflict and war between China and India; the second time it was done on account of Indo-Pak War in 1965. The third national emergency was declared in 1971 when India helped Eastern Pakistan to become an independent nation known as Bangladesh and for the 4th time, in 1975 when the Cabinet headed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi recommended to the President on account of ‘internal disturbances’.
(ii) The imposition of the second category of emergency is considered to have provided extra-ordinary power to the Union government. The first such emergency was proclaimed in 1951 in the State of Punjab, and then in Kerala in 1959. With the passage of time, this power has been used with increasing frequency. It has been alleged that President’s Rule has been used to dislodge the State governments of parties other than the party in power at the Centre. Article 356 deals with this type of emergency, which includes the imposition of President’s Rule over a State of India. When a State is under President’s Rule, the elected State government is suspended, and administration is conducted directly by the Governor of the State. Article 356 is controversial because some people consider it undemocratic, as its provides too much power to the Centre over the State governments. After the landmark case of S. R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the misuse of Article 356 was curtailed by the Supreme Court, which established strict guidelines for imposing President’s Rule.

VETO POWER OF THE PRESIDENT

A bill passed by the Parliament can become an act only if it receives the assent of the President. When such a bill is presented to the President for his assent, he has three alternatives (under Article 111 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may return the bill (if it is not a Money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, the President must give his assent to the bill.

Thus, the President has the veto power over the bills passed by the Parliament10, that is, he can withhold his assent to the bills. The object of conferring this power on the President is two-fold—(a) to prevent hasty and ill-considered legislation by the Parliament; and (b) to prevent a legislation which may be unconstitutional.

The veto power enjoyed by the executive in modern states can be classified into the following four types:

  1. Absolute veto, that is, withholding of assent to the bill passed by the legislature.
  2. Qualified veto, which can be overridden by the legislature with a higher majority.
  3. Suspensive veto, which can be over ridden by the legislature with an ordinary majority.
  4. Pocket veto, that is, taking no action on the bill passed by the legislature.

Of the above four, the President of India is vested with three—absolute veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto. There is no qualified veto in the case of Indian President; it is possessed by the American President. The three vetos of the President of India are explained below:

Absolute Veto

It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an actor. Usually, this veto is exercised in the following two cases:
(a) With respect to private members’ bills (ie, bills introduced by any member of Parliament who is not a minister); and
(b) With respect to the government bills when the cabinet resigns (after the passage of the bills but before the assent by the President) and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.

In 1954, President Dr. Rajendra Prasad withheld his assent to the PEPSU Appropriation Bill. The bill was passed by the Parliament when the President’s Rule was in operation in the state of PEPSU. But, when the bill was presented to the President for his assent, the President’s Rule was revoked.
Again in 1991, President R Venkataraman withheld his assent to the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill. The bill was passed by the Parliament (on the last day before the dissolution of Lok Sabha) without obtaining the previous recommendation of the President.

Suspensive Veto

The President exercises this veto when he returns a bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the bill. This means that the presidential veto is overridden by a re-passage of the bill by the same ordinary majority (and not a higher majority as required in the USA).

As mentioned earlier, the President does not possess this veto in the case of money bills. The President can either give his assent to a money bill or withhold his assent to a money bill but cannot return it for the reconsideration of the Parliament. Normally, the President gives his assent to money bill as it is introduced in the Parliament with his previous permission.

Pocket Veto

In this case, the President neither ratifies nor rejects nor returns the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period. This power of the President not to take any action (either positive or negative) on the bill is known as the pocket veto. The President can exercise this veto power as the Constitution does not prescribe any time limit within which he has to take the decision with respect to a bill presented to him for his assent. In the USA, on the other hand, the President has to return the bill for reconsideration within 10 days. Hence, it is remarked that the pocket of the Indian President is bigger than that of the American President.

In 1986, President Zail Singh exercised the pocket veto with respect to the Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill. The bill, passed by the Rajiv Gandhi Government, imposed restrictions on the freedom of the press and hence, was widely criticized. After three years, in 1989, the next President R Venkataraman sent the bill back for reconsideration, but the new National Front Government decided to drop the bill.

It should be noted here that the President has no veto power in respect of a constitutional amendment bill. The 24th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1971 made it obligatory for the President to give his assent to a constitutional amendment bill.

Presidential Veto over State Legislation

The President has veto power with respect to state legislation also. A bill passed by a state legislature can become an act only if it receives the assent of the governor or the President (in case the bill is reserved for the consideration of the President).

When a bill, passed by a state legislature, is presented to the governor for his assent, he has four alternatives (under Article 200 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature, or
  4. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.

Veto Power of the President At a Glance

Central LegislationState Legislation
With Regard to Ordinary Bills
1. Can be ratified1. Can be ratified
2. Can be rejected2. Can be rejected
3. Can be returned3. Can be returned
With Regard to Money Bills
1. Can be ratified1. Can be ratified
2. Can be rejected (but cannot be returned)2. Can be rejected (but cannot be returned)
With Regard to Constitutional Amendment Bills
Can only be ratified (that is, cannot be rejected or returned)Constitutional amendment bills cannot be introduced in the state legislature.

When a bill is reserved by the governor for the consideration of the President, the President has three alternatives (Under Article 201 of the Constitution):

  1. He may give his assent to the bill, or
  2. He may withhold his assent to the bill, or
  3. He may direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for the reconsideration of the state legislature. If the bill is passed again by the state legislature with or without amendments and presented again to the President for his assent, the President is not bound to give his assent to the bill. This means that the state legislature cannot override the veto power of the President. Further, the Constitution has not prescribed any time limit within which the President has to take the decision with regard to a bill reserved by the governor for his consideration. Hence, the President can exercise the pocket veto in respect of state legislation also.

summarises the discussion on the veto power of the President with regard to Central as well as state legislation.

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