India's president is the titular
head of the state, enjoys certain powers and performs a variety of
ceremonial functions. A lowdown on the Indian first citizen's
roles and powers as the nation's 13th president, Pranab Mukherjee,
assumed office Wednesday:
What are the executive powers?
The executive powers of the Indian union, under Article 53 of the
constitution, vest in the president. The president has a right to
be informed of all of the nation's affairs, enjoys powers to
appoint and remove high constitutional authorities, including the
prime minister and the council of ministers. All appointments of
the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the state
governors, the attorney general, the comptroller and auditor
general (CAG), and the chief commissioner and members of the
election commission are made in his name.
What are the legislative powers?
The budget session of parliament always begins with the
president's address and if there is a deadlock in legislation
process between the two houses of parliament, the president
summons a joint session to break the impasse. Under the Indian
constitution, the government needs prior presidential sanction
before introducing legislation such as for creating a new state or
changes in the boundary of existing states or even a change in its
name. Also, legislation dealing with fundamental rights under the
constitution require the president's consent, similar to money
bills introduced in the Lok Sabha. Besides, all bills passed by
parliament need the president's nod before becoming law.
The president also promulgates ordinances or emergent legislation
during parliament's recess. The president also nominates members
to both the houses.
However, his powers are limited to the extent that he can ask the
council of ministers to reconsider a bill they have sent him for
signing, such as invoking of Article 356. But if the council of
ministers sends back the bill, the president has no choice but to
What are the military powers?
The president is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces
and all officers' appointments are made by him or her, including
that of the chiefs. The country declares war in the name of the
president and also concludes peace, all from the control and
authority over parliament that the president enjoys.
What are the diplomatic roles?
India's president has wide-ranging roles to play when it comes to
diplomacy for maintaining relations with other countries. The
country's ambassadors and high commissioners are his
representatives in foreign land. He also receives the credentials
of diplomatic representatives of foreign countries. The president
also negotiates treaties and agreements with other nations prior
to ratification by parliament.
What are the judicial powers?
The president enjoys judicial powers, primarily to rectify
judicial errors, grant pardons and reprieves from punishment. The
president can also seek the opinion of the supreme court on legal
and constitutional matters and on matters of national and people's
What are the financial roles?
The president causes the presentation of audit reports before
parliament and is to receive the report of the finance commission
and to act on its recommendations. The Contingency Fund of India
is also at the president's disposal.
What are the emergency powers?
Three kinds of emergencies are envisaged by the constitution.
Under national emergency powers, the president can declare a state
of emergency after satisfying that the country's security is at
peril, either from external aggression or armed rebellion within.
The national emergency is declared only after the prime minister
and the cabinet recommends it in writing.
The state emergency is basically political emergency, resulting in
president's rule or governor's rule, if there is a constitutional
or law and order breakdown, under Article 356 of the constitution.
The financial emergency occurs when the financial stability of the
country or any part of the country is seriously affected. The
president can direct a state government to observe prudence in
public expenditure. The financial emergency powers of the
president have never been put to test ever in the last six