President of India – The Roles and Responsibilities

Wed, Aug 1, 2012

Social Issues

We finally have a new president, after months of discussions, arguments and lot of political viewpoints involved during this whole duration. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee is the 13th President of our country and thus joins the elite list of our other previous head of states. Although, our President is recognized as the first citizen of our nation, there is a major chunk of people which believes that the President doesn’t contribute towards significant decision making for the cause of the nation. Is the more popular belief, that the President doesn’t possess enough powers to modify the cabinet’s decision, actually true or is it just another case of lack of knowledge amongst the general masses. To understand this question, we need to go through the various jobs and responsibilities of our President.

To start with, the President is the head of the armed forces of India. He also assigns the various state Governors, the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Attorney General, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. The President also chooses the Election Commissioners and the Ambassadors to different nations. The thing to be noted here is that although the President does not select people for these coveted positions himself, but he can chose not to complete the formal assigning and ask the government to re-look upon the selections. The official procedure for all such posts is finally approved by the President only and hence it is important for him to go through these selections appropriately. Also, being the head of the whole administration, the President is the one who finally approves the bills passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Here also, if the President is not satisfied with the objectives of the bill, he has the authority to send the bill back to the Parliament once. The President can’t topple the eventual decision of the Parliament, but can interfere to make the cabinet re-think over the objectives of the bill.

One very critical role of the President is the responsibility he has to take while dealing with a death penalty. The decision of death penalty given to a person by Indian Law can be overturned only by the President. This is one of the most crucial decisions that a President may have to make while respecting the legal procedure involved in the particular case. Death penalty in India is imposed only in the rarest of rare cases according to the rule of Supreme Court of India. Hence, it is only at the behest of the President that it can be overturned. Another significant role of the President is during the times of crisis, such as an Emergency, which India has already experienced in the past. In the scenario of an internal crisis or a situation of predicament, the President is the one who declares Emergency and then tries to assist the government. In this case, the President can override many provisions of the constitution, which promise fundamental rights to the citizens of India and provide governing delegation of powers to the states which form the coalition.

As for the appointment of the President, there is a specific reason that the cabinet members and the opposition party members should come as close as possible towards reaching a consensus. This reason is in direct relation with the situation of removal of the President in case he is proved to be guilty of some charges or in case he is found to have dishonoured the constitution. Even in this case, the President can be put on trial only if there is a majority of two-thirds of both the houses of the Parliament. During the voting to decide a new President, the members of Parliament need not follow the instructions of their respective parties as the voting is done through a secret poll.

Looking at a broader level, the President of our country represents our pride and honour simply by the virtue of his designation. Our Presidents in the past have provided motivation to the nation in the form of some inspirational words by addressing the nation on special occasions like Republic Day and Independence Day. This sort of communication with the nation becomes even more crucial when a country is going through a delicate situation or a phase of economic or social vulnerability. Judging by the importance of such occasions, one can say that the job and responsibility of our President is not bounded by a fixed set of regulations and he can continue to serve the country by supporting the decisions of the Government in favour of the people of our country.

Sandeep Sharma

MBA Batch of 2013

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