According to Article 53, all the executive powers of the union are vested in the President. The executive powers of the President are multidimensional in character and it includes the powers of the nature of:
- Administrative powers
- Legislative powers
- Pardoning powers
- Military powers
- Diplomatic powers
- Miscellaneous powers
Although these powers are classified into many groups, they are executive powers of the President which he shall exercise only with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
(a) Administrative Powers: Administrative powers are those are required for the purpose of the making and implementing policy, law and administrating the departments of the government. The administrative powers include:
- The power to appoint and remove persons to various offices under the Government of India. All the constitutional offices such as Prime Minister, Council of Ministers, judges of Supreme Court and high courts, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, members of UPSC, etc.
- Most of the incumbents, except a few such as the judges of Supreme Court and high courts, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, hold office during the pleasure of the President. For instance, the ministers of the union hold office during the pleasure of the President. [Article 75 (2)]. Therefore, the President also the powers to remove those who he appoints from office.
- According to Article 77, the President has the powers to ‘make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the government’. He also has the powers to allocate the portfolios to the ministers. Exercising this power, the President has made the Allocation of Business Rules and Transaction of Business Rules.
- Article 77 also empowers the President to create and abolish various ministries and departments.
- According to Article 78, the President as the head of the State and administrative head, has the powers to:
- Be informed about the decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the affairs of the union.
- Call for any information relating to the administration of the affairs of the union.
These are the duties of the Prime Minster. Thus, Article 78 confers upon the President the power to supervise and call for report. These are some of aspects of the executive power.
(b) Legislative Powers: The legislative powers of the President are the executive powers of legislative nature because such powers are exercised by the President in accordance with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. Also, they are subjected to judicial review. The Legislative powers include:
- Article 79: The President is part of Parliament.
- Article 80: The President has the powers to nominate twelve members to be nominated from among the ‘persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service’.
- Article 331: President has the powers to nominate two members of the Anglo-Indian community, if in his opinion the community is not adequately represented in the House of People.
- Articles 85 and 108: The President has the power to summon and prorogue the Houses of the Parliament from time-to-time. However, he has to ensure that not more than six months expires between the last sitting of the previous session and the first sitting of the next session. He also has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha, when the term of the Lok Sabha expires or whenever it is required and call for election. Article 108 provides for the power of the President to convene a joint sitting of both the Houses of the Parliament to resolve the deadlock between the two Houses in respect of an Ordinary Bill.
- Articles 86 and 87: Provides for the right of the President to address the Houses of the Parliament and send messages to the Houses. The President can address the Houses either separately or jointly. For the purpose he can require the attendance of the members. The President also has the right to send messages to the Houses. Article 86 provides for the special address by the President. The first session after every general election to Lok Sabha and the first session of the Parliament every year begin with the President’s address. The President informs the members the cause of the summoning of the Houses.
- Previous Sanctions to Bills: Certain bills can be introduced into the Parliament only the previous recommendation of the President. Such bills are:
- Bills relating to creation of new states or the alteration of the names, areas or boundaries of any existing State (Article 3).
- The bill providing for compulsory acquisitioning or requisitioning of property under Article 31A.
- Money Bills can be introduced only with the previous recommendation of the President (Article 117).
- Any State Bills imposing restriction upon freedom of trade (Article 304).
- Bills affecting taxation in which States are interested [Article 274 (1)].
- A bill which, if enacted and brought into operation, would involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India shall not be passed by either House of Parliament unless the President has recommended to that House the consideration of the bill [Article 117 (3)].
- Assent to Bills: According to Article 111, after a bill passed by the Houses of the Parliament, it is presented to the President for his assent. When a bill is presented to him the President may:
- Declare that he gives his assent, in this case the bill will become a law or;
- Declare that he withholds his assent, it means the President has vetoed the bill and the bill is dead or;
- Return the bill to the House in which it originated for reconsideration, with or without certain recommendations for amendment.
- Ordinance Making Power (Article 123): Article 123 confers upon the President the power to promulgate ordinances in certain circumstances/contingencies when the Parliament is not able to enact a law. ‘If at any time, except when both the Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that the circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate’ ordinances.
(c) Pardoning Powers: All the modern constitutions confer the powers to pardon upon the executive. It is an executive power of judicial nature. It is vested in the President to correct any error that may occur in the judicial decisions for no human system is perfect. The pardoning powers of the President comprise a group of five powers, each having distinct significance and legal consequence namely:
Commutation: It means to substitute one form of punishment with another punishment of lighter character. For example, reducing the death sentence to life imprisonment is commutation.
Remission: It means to reduce the amount of punishment without changing the character of the punishment. For example, it is to reduce the number of years of imprisonment to a convict.
Respite: It is to award a lesser punishment instead of the prescribed punishment in view of certain special reasons such as the age of the convict or pregnancy of a woman.
Reprieve: It is to stay the execution of a sentence during when the petition for pardon is pending before the President or the Governor.
Pardon: It absolves the offender from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
According to Article 72, the President can exercise the above powers with respect to any offence committed against the law enacted by the union Parliament. The President is the only authority who can grant pardon in respect of:
- All cases in which the sentence is one of death;
- A sentence of a court martial.
The Constitution of India does not specify the manner in which the President to exercise the pardoning powers. He has to exercise the power only in accordance with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, like other powers. According to a series of decisions of the Supreme Court and of some high courts:
- The exercise of the power by the President under Article 72 is primarily a matter for his discretion and the courts would not interfere with his actual decision on the merits.
- But courts exercise a very limited power of judicial review, to ensure that the President considers all relevant materials before coming to his decision.
- The President can, in the exercise of this power, examine the evidence afresh. In doing so, he is not sitting as a court of appeal. His power is independent of the judiciary. He can, therefore, afford relief not only from a sentence which he regards as unduly harsh., but also from an evident mistake.
- The President is not bound to hear a petitioner for mercy before he rejects the petition.
(d) Military Powers: According to Article 53 (2), the President is the supreme commander of the armed forces and the exercise of this power is regulated by the law. Thus, the President is only authority who can declare war and peace.
(e) Diplomatic Powers: The President is the only authority who delegates the Indian envoys to foreign countries and it is to him the foreign envoys submit their credentials.
(f) Miscellaneous Powers: Other powers of the President than the above are included in the miscellaneous powers. Such powers include:
- Administration of the Union Territories: Union Territories (UTs) are under the direct administration of the Union government. The President carries out the administration of the UTs. The administrator is responsible only to the President. Final legislative power to make regulations with respect to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli is with the President. According to Article 240, President has the power to amend any law of the Parliament to apply to these UTs. He may even repeal any law relating to the UTs.
- Administration of Tribal areas: With respect to the Scheduled Area and Tribes and Tribal Area in Assam the President has certain special powers which are mention below:
- The President has the power to declare any area to be a Scheduled Area. He also has power to alter the Scheduled Area (Schedule V Para 6).
- According to Para 4 of Schedule V, the President has the powers to direct the establishment of a Tribes Council in the States having Scheduled Tribes.
- The regulations made by the Governor of a State for the peace and good government of the Scheduled Areas has to be submitted to the President and assented to by the President for it to come to effect [Schedule V Para 5 (4)].
- President has the powers to give directions for the administration of Scheduled Areas and direct the Governor to make report on the administration [Schedule V, Para 3].
- Special Powers in respect of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: The President has certain special powers and responsibilities regarding Scheduled Castes and Tribes:
- According to Article 341, the President has the power to draw up the list of Scheduled Caste in the States and UTs in consultation with the Governor.
- According to Article 342, the President has the power to draw up the list of Scheduled Tribes in the States and UTs in consultation with the Governor.
- Emergency Powers: The emergency powers are vested in the President. Articles 352 to 360 deal with the emergency powers. Article 352 provides for National Emergency. According to Article 356, the President can proclaim constitutional emergency based on the report of the Governor or otherwise. Article 360 confers the power to proclaim financial emergency.
- Other Powers: According to Article 213, the President has the power to give instructions to the Governor to issue ordinances in case the bill containing the same provisions requires the previous sanction of the President. The President can refer any matter of public importance to Supreme Court for its opinion.