Indian President Powers and Functions in the Indian Constitution

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 03:44 -- Umar Farooq

A Review of Powers and Functions of Indian President

Indian Constitution has vested the President with a formidable and frightening list of powers. And they become all the more so when we remember that it has set up a federation with a very strong Centre, which can be changed into unitary state in many ways and on many occasions. That's why its critics have subjected it to a scathing criticism. They describe the President of India as a dictator and an autocrat a Ceaser, who strides the Indian Republic. But the critics have gone to other extreme. Truth lies in the middle.

The Indian President neither Creaser nor Colossus. He is undoubtedly far less powerful than his prototype the US President. Indeed there is nothing common between the two except their names, the reason is that Indian President is the head of Parliamentary system of state. He is the head of the State but not of the Government. "He is the head of the State but not of the executive. He represents the nation but does not rule it". The powers of Indian President are in reality exercised by the Council of Ministers who are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. His position is thus intended to be similar to that of the British Queen and the President of France before De Gaulle. The powers which are liven 'to him, are expected to be exercised' by him not according to his own wishes but on the advice of the Ministers who are responsible to the legislature.

Nevertheless, it should not be inferred that the Indian President is mere glorified cipher. It is true that he has no real power. But he has a lot of influence. Like the British Monarch he has the rights to be kept informed, to encourage and to warn his ministers. Position of president under Indian constitution influence the decisions of the Cabinet though he cannot determine its policies. As to how much influence he will actually have depends upon his personality and the personal equation between himself and his Prime Minister. "Presidency will be what Presidents can make of it". Under certain circumstances his position may become one of greater power than that of the British Monarch. Unlike England, India has become a large number of political parties when the Congress Party will be reduced to minority party and no party will have greater choice of the Prime Minister and would be able to have influence on the Cabinet policies. It is quite likely than that the Indian President may become as strong as Gen De Gaulle has become in the French Republic and the Constitution of India 'may become a symbolic Parliamentary Constitution.