India is a democratic republic with a parliamentary form of government. The government
at the Central level is called ‘Union Government’ and at the State level it is known as
‘State Government’. The Union Government has three organs – the Executive, the
Legislature and the Judiciary. The President, the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers
collectively constitute the Union Executive.
India is a sovereign democratic republic. The President of India who is head of State, is indirectly elected.
The qualifications for the office of President are:
(i) should be a citizen of India;
(ii) should have completed the age of 35 years;
(iii) should be qualified to be elected as a member of Lok Sabha; and
(iv) should not hold any office of profit i.e. the candidate should not be a government
servant. However the office of the President, the Vice-President, the Governor or
the Minister of the Union or the State is not considered as an office of profit for this
The President cannot at the same time be a member of Parliament or of a State
Legislature. If a member of Parliament or State Legislature is elected as President
his/her seat will be deemed to have been vacated on the date, he/she assumes office
as President of India.
The President is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both
Houses of Parliament i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and of the State Legislative
Assemblies (Vidhan Sabhas). Nominated members of Parliament and members of State
Legislative Councils are not members of the Electoral College. The election is held by
means of single transferable vote system of proportional representation. The voting is
done by secret ballot.
To obtain parity between the votes of the elected members of Parliament on one side and elected members of Legislative Assemblies of all the States on the other, a system to determine the value of vote of each member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly was devised, so as to ensure equality. The value of vote of each member of Legislative Assembly of a state is determined by: total population of the State is divided by the number of elected members of the State Legislative Assembly, and the quotient is divided by 1000. The value of each vote of a Member of Parliament is determined by adding all the votes of members of the State Legislative Assemblies including the Legislative Assemblies of Union Territory of Delhi and Pondicherry divided by total member of elected members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
At both the stages if the remainder is less than 50% of the divides, it is ignored. But when
the remainder is 50% or more, one vote is added to the quotient.
Single Transferable Vote System: The election of the President is held through single
transferable vote system of proportional representation. Under this system names of all
the candidates are listed on the ballot paper and the elector gives them numbers according
to his/her preference. Every voter may mark on the ballot paper as many preferences as
there are candidates. Thus the elector shall place the figure 1 opposite the name of the
candidate whom he/she chooses for first preference and may mark as many preferences
as he/she wishes by putting the figures 2,3,4 and so on against the names of other candidates.
Members of State Legislative Assemblies cast their votes in States Capitals, while Members
of Parliament cast their votes in Delhi. Counting of votes is done at
New Delhi. First preference votes of all the candidates are sorted out and counted. To be
declared elected a candidate must get more than 50% of the total valid votes polled. This
is known as Quota. The Quota is determined by totalling the total number of votes polled
divided by the number of candidates to be elected plus one. In this case, since only the
President is to be elected, so division is done by 1+1. One (01) is added to the quotient to
make it more than 50%.
At the first count only first preference votes are counted. If any of the candidates reaches
the quota, he/she is declared elected. In case no candidate reaches the quota, then the 2nd
preference votes of the candidate getting the least number of first preference votes are
transferred to other candidates. Thus the candidate getting the least number of votes is
eliminated. If after counting, a candidate reaches quota, he/she is declared elected as the
President. In case no candidate reaches quota, even at this stage, then the votes of next
candidate getting the least number of votes are transferred to the others. It continues till
any one candidate gets the quota of votes.
Before entering upon the office the President has to take an oath of office in the presence of the Chief Justice of India.
The President: Tenure and Removal:
The President is elected for a term of five years and is eligible for re-election, though a
convention has developed that no President seeks election for the third term. However,
the first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected for two full terms. He/she may resign
before the expiry of his term, or the office of President may fall vacant due to his/her
Privileges and Immunities:
The President of India enjoys certain privileges and immunities which include the following:
1. The President is not answerable to any court of law for the exercise of his functions.
2. The President can neither be arrested nor any criminal proceedings be instituted
against him in any court of law during his tenure.
3. The President cannot be asked to be present in any court of law during his tenure.
4. A prior notice of two months time is to be served before instituting a civil case against
Removal of the President:
The President can only be removed from office through a process called impeachment. He can only be impeached ‘for violation of the Constitution’.
The resolution to impeach the President can be moved in either House of Parliament.
Such a resolution can be moved only after a notice has been given by at least one-fourth
of the total number of members of the House. Such a resolution charging the President for
violation of the Constitution must be passed by a majority of not less than two-third of the
total membership of that House before it goes to the other House for investigation.
The charges levelled against the President are investigated by the second House. President
has the right to be heard or defended when the charges against him are being investigated.
The President may defend himself in person or through his counsel. If the charges are
accepted by a two-third majority of the total membership of the second House, the
impeachment succeeds. The President thus stands removed from the office from the date
on which the resolution is passed.
Impeachment: An impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure leading to the
removal of a high public official, say, the President as in India, on the grounds of the
violation of the Constitution.
Vacancy in the Office of the President:
Whenever the office of the President falls vacant either due to death or resignation or
impeachment, the Vice-President officiates for a period not more than six months. The
Constitution has made it obligatory that in such cases (of vacancy in the office of President)
election for a new President must be held within six months. The newly elected President
then holds office for his full term of five years. Thus, when President Fakhruddin Ali
Ahmad died in 1977, Vice-President B. D. Jatti officiated and the new President (Sanjeeva
Reddy) was elected within six months.
In case the President’s office falls vacant and the Vice-President is not available (or VicePresident acting as President dies or resigns in less than six months), the Chief Justice of
India is required to officiate till the new President is elected. This provision was made in
1969 by the Parliament to enable Chief Justice Hidayatullah to officiate when President
Zakir Hussain had died, and Vice-President V. V. Giri resigned.
If a President is temporarily unable to discharge his duties, due to illness or otherwise, the
Vice-President may discharge the functions of the President without officiating as the
Powers of the President:
The Constitution has vested the President with vast powers. Broadly the powers of the
President can be classified as Executive, Legislative, Financial and Judicial Powers. His
emergency powers have already been dealt with.
The President is head of State and executive powers of the Union have been vested in him.
The President appoints the Prime Minister and he appoints other ministers on the
advice of the Prime Minister. He allocates portfolios among the ministers on the
advice of the Prime Minister. He may remove any Minister on the advice of the
The President appoints the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court and High
Courts. However, in all judicial appointments, the Chief Justice of India is consulted. Besides
the President may also consult such other judges of the Supreme Court as the President
may be deemed necessary.
While appointing Chief Justice and justices of High Courts the
President has to consult the State Governor also. In the appointment of High Court judges,
the President also consults the Chief Justice of the State. But now in accordance with the
1993 decision of the Supreme Court as re-interpreted in 1999 , the President
is bound by the recommendations of a panel of senior most judges of the Supreme Court
in matters of all judicial appointments. This panel headed by the Chief Justice is known as
the collegium of the Supreme Court.
The President appoints the Attorney General, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners, the Chairman and Members of Union Public Service Commission (U.P.S.C.). He/she also appoints the Governors of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories. All such appointments are made on the advice of the Union Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.
The President is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. As such, the President makes appointments of Chiefs of Army, Navy, and Air Force. The President can declare
war and make peace. In his/her capacity as head of state, the President conducts the
country’s foreign affairs. The President appoints India’s ambassadors and high
commissioners in other countries; and the President receives foreign ambassadors and
All laws enacted by the Union Parliament are enforced by him/her. All officials appointed
by him/her (such as Governors and Ambassadors) may be removed or recalled by him/
her, on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.
All the functions are performed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. All
decisions of the Union Government are communicated to him/her by the Prime Minister.
The President can ask the Prime Minister only once to have a recommendation of the
executive reconsidered by the Cabinet. The President can also refer a minister’s decision
to the Cabinet for its consideration. The President cannot seek a second reconsideration.
The President summons, and prorogues the Houses of Parliament. The President has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha even before the expiry of its term on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. In normal course he/she dissolves Lok Sabha after five years. The President nominates twelve members to Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge in the field of literature, science, art and social service. The President may also nominate two members ofAnglo-Indian community to the Lok Sabha in case that community is not adequately represented in the House. The President can call a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament in case of a disagreement
between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on a non-money bill. The President addresses both Houses of Parliament jointly at the first session after every general election as well as commencement of the first
session every year. These addresses contain policies of the government of the day.
Every bill passed by Parliament is sent to the President for his/her assent. The President
may give his/her assent, or return it once for the reconsideration of the Parliament. If
passed again the President has to give her assent. Without his/her assent no bill can become
The President may promulgate an ordinance when the Parliament is not in session.
The ordinance so issued has the force of law. The ordinance so promulgated should be laid
before both Houses of Parliament when they reassemble. If it is neither rejected by the
Parliament nor withdrawn by the President, it automatically lapses six weeks after the
commencement of the next session of Parliament. Generally a bill is moved by the
Government to enact a law in place of the ordinance.
All money bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha only with the prior approval of the President. Money bills are never returned for reconsiderations.
The President has the control over Contingency Fund of India.
Contingency Fund of India: It is a fund kept by the Union Government to meet
any unforeseen expenditure for which money is immediately needed. The President
has full control over this Fund. The President permits withdrawals from this Fund.
Annual budget and railway budget are introduced in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation of the President.
The President appoints the Finance Commission after every five years.
It makes recommendations to the President on some specific financial matters, especially the distribution of Central taxes between the Union and the States.
The President also receives the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, and has it laid in the Parliament.
The President appoints Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court. The President also appoints Chief Justices and other judges of the High Courts. The President appoints law officers of the Union Government including the Attorney-General of India.
The President, as head of state, can pardon a criminal or reduce the punishment or suspend,
remit the sentence of a criminal convicted by the Supreme Court or High Courts for an offence against the federal laws. The President can pardon a person convicted by a Court Martial. His/her power of pardon includes granting of pardon even to a person awarded death sentence. But, the President performs this function on the advice of Law Ministry.
Position of the President:
The powers formally vested in him/her are actually exercised not by his/her, but by the Union
Council of Ministers, in his/her name.
The Council of Ministers is responsible to Lok Sabha, and can be removed on its adverse vote only. In practice the ministers do not hold office during the pleasure of the President.
The Constitution, 42nd Amendment Act has made it obligatory for the President to act only on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The President cannot act independently.
The Vice-President of India is elected indirectly by an electoral college consisting of members of both Houses of Parliament, on the basis of proportional representation by means of single transferable
vote system. The voting is held by secret ballot. The Vice-President cannot be a member
of either Houses of Parliament, or of a State Legislature. The Vice-President has to
possess the following qualifications:
He/she has to be a citizen of India, who should not be less than 35 years of age, should not
hold any office of profit and should be eligible to be elected as a member of the Rajya
The Vice-President is elected for a term of five years. He/she may resign from the office
of the Vice-President even before the expiry of five years by writing to the President. The
Vice President can be removed before five years if a resolution to this effect is passed by
a majority of members of Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha.
Functions of the Vice-President:
The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha which means that whosoever
is the Vice-President, he/she presides over the Rajya Sabha and performs normal duties
of a presiding officer. These include maintenance of order in the House, allowing members
to speak and ask questions, and putting bills and motions to vote. Since the Vice-President
is not a member of the Rajya Sabha, he/she cannot vote in the House. But, in case of a tie
(equality of votes in favour and against a bill), the Vice President exercises his/her casting
vote so that a decision can be reached.
If ever a vacancy arises in the office of President, due to death, resignation or impeachment,
the Vice-President officiates as the President for not more than six months.
During that period, he enjoys all powers of the President, and does not preside over the
House when he officiates as President.
In case the President is temporarily unable to discharge his/her functions, the Vice-President
may be called upon to discharge his/her functions, without becoming officiating President.
PRIME MINISTER AND THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The executive powers of the President are exercised by the Council of Ministers. The
Constitution provides that “there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at
the head to aid and advise the President in the excercise of his functions”. Here the word
“shall” indicates that the President cannot function without the Council of Ministers. The
President is the constitutional head of State, but the real Head of the government is the
Appointment of the Prime Minister:
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President but the President does not have freedom
in the selection of the Prime Minister. Normally the President has to invite leader of the
majority party to form the government. In case no single party is in clear majority, the
President invites the person who is likely to command support of two or more parties
which make up majority in the Lok Sabha.
Once appointed, the Prime Minister holds office so long as he/she enjoys the support of the majority of members of Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister is normally leader of the majority party in Lok Sabha.
However, there have been cases when a member of Rajya Sabha was made the Prime Minister. This happened when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was first appointed, Prime Minster in 1966, or when I. K. Gujral
became Prime Minister in 1997 or when Rajya Sabha member Dr. Manmohan Singh became the Prime Minister in 2004. In 1996 H.D. Deve Gowda was not a member of any House. He later entered the Rajya Sabha.
Members of the Council of Ministers are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister decides portfolios of the Ministers, and can alter these at his will.
In order to be a Minister, a person has to be a member of either of the two Houses of
Parliament. Even a person who is not a member of any of the two Houses can become a
Minister for a period of six months. Within six months the Minister has to get himself/
herself elected to either House of Parliament, failing which he/she ceases to be a Minister.
All the Ministers are collectively as well as individually responsible to the Lok Sabha.
The Council of Ministers consists of two category of ministers. These are: Cabinet Ministers
and Ministers of State. The Cabinet Ministers are usually senior members of the party/
coalition of parties. The Ministers of State come next to Cabinet Ministers. Some of the
Ministers of State have independent charge of a department while other Ministers of State
only assist the Cabinet Ministers.
The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Cabinet. All policy matters are
decided by the Cabinet. The Prime Minister has the authority to reshuffle the portfolios of
the Ministers or even ask for their resignation. In case of resignation or death of the Prime
Minister the entire Council of Ministers also goes out of office. This is because the Council
of Ministers is created by the Prime Minister, who also heads it. The entire Council of
Ministers is responsibility to the Lok Sabha.
Powers and Functions of the Prime Minister:
The Prime Minister is the most important and powerful functionary of the Union Government.
The President is head of the government and leader of Lok Sabha. The President is
principal advisor to the President, and the country’s visible face and spokesperson in the
The Prime Minister being the head of the Council of Ministers, selects the Ministers to be
sworn in by the President. The Prime Minister presides over the meetings of the Cabinet and conducts its proceedings.
As head of the Cabinet, he/she largely influences the decisions of the Cabinet. The Prime
Minister co-ordinates the working of various ministers. The President resolves disagreement
if any amongst different Ministers. Prime Minister is the link between the President and
The Prime Minister is the “principal spokesman” and defender of the policies of the
Government in the Parliament. The Prime Minister plays an important role in the formulation of domestic and foreign policies. The President is the Chief spokesperson of the policies of the country.
The Council of Ministers and The Cabinet:
Differences between the Council of Ministers and the Cabinet are: The Council of Ministers
consists of all category of Ministers i.e., Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State. The Cabinet on the other hand consists of Senior Ministers only.
The Council of Ministers as a whole rarely meets. The Cabinet on the other hand meets as frequently as possible. It is the Cabinet that determines the policies and programmes of the Government and not the Council of Ministers. Thus, ‘Cabinet is an inner body within the Council of Ministers’.
Powers and Functions of the Cabinet:
All the executive powers of the President are exercised by the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.
The Cabinet determines and formulates the internal and external policies of the country. It
takes all major decisions regarding defence and security of the country. Cabinet has control
over national finance. The Cabinet is responsible for whole of the expenditure of the
government as well for raising necessary revenues.
It is the Cabinet that prepares the text of President’s address to the Parliament. The Cabinet is also responsible for the issuance of Ordinances by the President when the Parliament is not in session. The sessions of the Parliament are convened by the President on the advice of the Cabinet conveyed through the Prime Minister. The Cabinet prepares the agenda of the sessions of the Parliament.
Our Constitution clearly says that “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible
to ‘House of the People’.” It actually means that the Ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha not as individuals alone, but collectively also. Collective responsibility has two implications. Firstly, it means that every member of the Council of ministers accepts responsibility for each and every decision of the Cabinet. Secondly, vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister is a vote against the whole Council of Ministers.
Though the Ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, they are also individually
responsible to the Lok Sabha. Individual responsibility is enforced when an action taken by
a Minister without the concurrence of the Cabinet, or the Prime Minister, is criticised and
not approved by the Parliament.
NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION:- It is a motion moved by a member of legislature
expressing no-confidence of the House in the Council of Ministers. If adopted by the
legislature, the Council of Ministers has to resign.