Chapter 4: Executive We have already seen that President is the formal head of the government. In this formal sense, the President has wide ranging executive, legislative, judicial and emergency powers. In a parliamentary system, these powers are in reality used by the President only on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers have support of the majority in the Lok Sabha and they are the real executive. In most of the cases, the President has to follow the advice of the Council of Ministers. to create executive nor wants to figurehead...” Jawaharlal Nehru CAD, Vol. VI, p. 734 Discretionary Powers of the President On the basis of the above discussion can we infer that the President has no discretionary power under any circumstances? This will be an incorrect assessment. Constitutionally, the President has a right to be informed of all important matters and deliberations of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister is obliged to furnish all the information that the President may call for. The President often writes to the Prime Minister and expresses his views on matters confronting the country. have in their mind? or She, but Indian Constitution at Work Besides this, there are at least three situations where the President can exercise the powers using his or her own discretion. In the first place, we have already noted that the President can send back the advice given by the Council of Ministers and ask the Council to reconsider the decision. In doing this, the President acts on his (or her) own discretion. When the President thinks that the advice has certain flaws or legal lacunae, or that it is not in the best interests of the country, the President can ask the Council to reconsider the decision. Although, the Council can still send back the same advice and the President would then be bound by that advice, such a request by the President to reconsider the decision, would naturally carry a lot of weight. So, this is one way in which the president can act in his own discretion. Secondly, the President also has veto power by which he can withhold or refuse to give assent to Bills (other than Money Bill) passed by the Parliament. Every bill passed by the Parliament goes to the President for his assent before it becomes a law. The President can send the bill back to the Parliament asking it to reconsider the Chapter 4: Executive servants from political interference in the performance of their duties. It is also felt that enough provisions are not there to ensure the accountability of the bureaucracy to the citizen. There is an expectation that measures like the Right to Information may make the bureaucracy a little more responsive and accountable. Conclusion The modern executive is a very powerful institution of government. The executive enjoys greater powers compared to other organs of the government. This generates a greater need to have democratic control over the executive. The makers of our Constitution thought with foresight that the executive must be put firmly under regular supervision and control. Thus, a parliamentary executive was chosen. Periodic elections, constitutional limits over the exercise of powers and democratic politics have ensured that executive organ cannot become unresponsive. Exercises 1. A parliamentary executive means: a. Executive where there is a parliament b. Executive elected by the parliament c. Where the parliament functions as the Executive d. Executive that is dependent on support of the majority in the parliament 2. Read this dialogue. Which argument do you agree with? Why? Amit: Looking at the constitutional provisions, it seems that the President is only a rubber stamp. Shama: The President appoints the Prime Minister. So, he must have the powers to remove the Prime Minister as well. Rajesh: We don’t need a President. After the election, the Parliament can meet and elect a leader to be the Prime Minister.