The President is the Head of the State. Has mostly nominal and ceremonial powers.
The president is not elected directly by the ordinary citizens, but by MLAs and MPs. That way, though he’s not directly elected, he’s seen as representative of the whole nation
Period: 5 years
Can be removed by impeachment.
Executive – executive powers are vested in him. Executive decision are taken in his name. – Appoints PM and the Council of Ministers (on PM’s advice)- Appoints Attorney General, Comptroller and Auditor General, Supreme court & High court judges, Governors, members of UPSC.
Military – supreme commander of the defence forces
Diplomatic – appoints Ambassador. All international treaties and agreements are in the name of the President.
Judicial – power to grant pardon/reduce punishment in case of court martial/death sentence.
Legislative - summon and programme the Parliament
– nominates 12 members to Parliament
– has to consent money bill
A state of Emergency can be declared only by the President (on the advice of PM and cabinet) minister in case of
– War or External Aggression (Article 352)
– Constitutional Emergency – National or state (Article 356)
– Financial emergency (Article 360)
1) Reconsideration of Decision – He can send a bill back to the Parliament for reconsideration. His opinion carries weightage2) Veto Power – Other than money bill, President can withhold a bill, by not sending it for re-consideration. No time limit set by Constitution for sending back bill. Also called ‘pocket veto’.
3) Selection of Prime Minister – If no party get majority, or if there are 2 or 3 claimants for majority in Lok Sabha, it’s the President’s prerogative to select PM.
The President appoints the leader of the majority party or the coalition of parties that commands a majority in the Lok Sabha, as Prime Minister. In case no single party or alliance gets a majority, the President appoints the person most likely to secure a majority support. The Prime Minister does not have a fixed tenure. He continues in power so long as he remains the leader of the majority party or coalition.
The President appoints the council of Ministers based on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Ministers are usually from the party or the coalition that has the majority in the Lok Sabha. The Prime Minister is free to choose ministers, as long as they are members of Parliament. Sometimes, a person who is not a member of Parliament can also become a minister. But such a person has to get elected to one of the Houses of the Parliament within six months of appointment as minister.
Council of Ministers
The Constitution has not placed any upper limit on the size of the Council of Ministers, but there is a constitutional obligation that the Council not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Parliament.
The Cabinet is referred to ‘the wheel within a wheel’. It’s the most powerful decision making organ of the government. Cabinet Ministers are heads of important ministries. The Cabinet meets under the leadership of the PM. All decisions are based on debate and dialogue. All ministers abide by its decisions. In case of difference of opinion, the concerned minister must quit his post. He is not allowed to criticize the decisions of the Cabinet as he is a part of it.
Ministers of State
Also known as ‘deputy ministers’. They are of lower rank than Cabinet ministers. They report to the respective Cabinet Minister.
Their activities involve day-to-day functioning of their ministry. They are not involved in Cabinet meetings and decision making.
Ministers of State (Independent Charge)
They are of lower rank than Cabinet ministers. They have the authority to take decisions independently in their respective ministries without the overseeing of a Cabinet Minister. They are responsible for their ministry. MoS with Independent Charge can attend Cabinet meetings in case of important issues relating to their ministry.
Why is the minister more powerful than the bureaucrat?
The bureaucrat/ civil servant is usually more educated and has more expert knowledge of the subject and yet why is he less powerful than the minister?
The reason is that in a democracy the will of the people is supreme. The minister is elected by the people and thus empowered to exercise the will of the people on their behalf. He is finally answerable to the people for all the consequences of her decision. That is why the minister takes all the final decisions. The minister decides the overall framework and objectives in which decisions on policy should be made. The minister is not, and is not expected to be an expert in the matters of her ministry. The minister takes the advice of experts on all technical matters. But very often experts hold different opinions or place before the minister more than one option. Depending on what the overall objective is, the minister decides.