Constitutional position of President

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India’s Constitution established a parliamentary system of administration. Because of this, the President now only serves as a symbolic executive; the true executive is represented by the council of ministers, which is led by the prime minister. In other words, the Prime Minister-led Council of Ministers must advise and assist the President in the execution of his duties and Constitutional position of President.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar succinctly described the essential role of the President as follows :
“According to the Indian Constitution, the President of the Union is an official who serves as the leader of the Indian Union. The official’s title is reminiscent of the American president. Beyond the similarity of titles, the American system of government and the one implemented in accordance with the Indian Constitution have no features in common. The Indian Constitution adopted the parliamentary system of government, which is different from the presidential system used in the United States. The President is the Chief head of the Executive in the American presidential system, and he has full administrative authority. The President of India holds the same office that the King of England does under the English Constitution. He is the State’s head, not the Executive’s. Despite not having national authority, he represents the country.

He represents the country as a whole. He serves as a ceremonial object or a seal by which the nation’s decisions are communicated in the government. His ministers’ counsel generally binds him. He is unable to take any action that is against their advise or without it. Any secretary may be fired at any time by the American president. As long as his ministers hold a majority in Parliament, the President of the Indian Union is powerless to act in that manner.
Particular attention must be paid to the requirements of Articles 53, 74, and 75 while determining the President’s constitutional standing.
These are:

  1. According to this Constitution, the President shall have the executive power of the Union and shall execute it either directly or through officers who report to him (Article 53).
  1. The President shall be assisted and advised by a council of ministers, with the Prime Minister serving as its chairman (Article 74). The President “shall” act in line with such advice.
  2. According to Article 75, the Lok Sabha would be held jointly responsible by the council of ministers. The parliamentary system of government is based on this clause.

The Prime Minister’s Cabinet’s advice was required of the President by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976, which was passed by the Indira Gandhi Administration. The 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978 (enacted by the Morarji Desai-led Janata Party government) gave the President the authority to request that the council of ministers rethink such advice in general or in specific circumstances. However, follow the recommendations made after such re-examination. In other words, the President may refer a topic to his ministers once for a second opinion, but that opinion will be final.

In accordance with Article 356 of the Constitution, the cabinet proposed that President K.R. Narayanan implement President’s Rule in Uttar Pradesh in October 1997. The President sent the topic back to the cabinet for review, and the cabinet ultimately opted not to proceed. Consequently, the Kalyan Singh-led BJP administration was preserved. The President KR Narayanan once more rejected the cabinet’s request to impose the President’s Rule in Bihar in September 1998. The cabinet reviewed the same again a few months later. Only after that, in February 1999, was Bihar placed under President’s Rule.

Despite not having any constitutional discretion, the President does have some situational discretion. In other words, in the following circumstances, the President may decide to take a decision without consulting the ministers:
(i) The appointment of a prime minister in situations when no party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha or when the incumbent prime minister passes away abruptly and no one is in a position to take over.
(ii) The dismissal of the cabinet when it is unable to demonstrate Lok Sabha confidence.
(iii) If the council of ministers loses its majority, the Lok Sabha is dissolved.

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