Constitutional Democracy of India

9. Legislative power

President is an integral part of the parliament. Parliament has been defined under the constitution as president in parliament. Further, he plays a significant role in the legislative field in so far as no Bill can become an Act without the consent of the president which can either give straight or can withheld or can keep under suspension. He can also return the Bill for reconsideration of the parliament with or without a message. But he shall give his consent after the parliament passes the bill in its earlier form or otherwise after the reconsideration of the Bill. He has the following other functions to perform in this area: No money Bill, No state reorganization Bill, , Bills affecting the taxation in which states are interested or Bills imposing restriction on trade and commerce within a state or with other states can be introduced in parliament or the state legislature without the prior recommendation of the president. He is to consider certain Bills reserved for that purpose by the Governor of a state. He can give his consent, withhold his consent and return it for reconsideration of the state legislature. However, he is not bound to give his consent if the state legislature has passed the Bill in its original form again after the reconsideration. The president has the power to issue ordinance when parliament is not in session and he is satisfied that it is necessary to take immediate action in a particular matter. This power is generally exercised by him on the advice of the council of ministers. In certain exceptional circumstances, however, he may exercise his discretion as was done by (1) Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma who decided not to issue two ordinances on the eve of elections (2) APJ Abdul Kalam on major policy matter;(3) Shri Pranab Mukherjee to issue five ordinances as conceived by the Man Mohan Singh Government on anti- graft matters on the eve of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha. The UPA government did not recommend the issue of these ordinances after it was convinced that the president was not prepared to sign any of these ordinances.( Times of India, March 10,2014) The president has been given powers to decide the case of disqualification of members of parliament if any such case arises on any of the grounds mentioned under Article 102 of the constitution which states as follows: a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as ,and for being, a member of either House of Parliament if (a) he holds any office of profit under the government of India or the government of any state, other than an office declared by parliament by law not to disqualify its holder; (b) he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;(c) he is an undischarged insolvent and (d) he is not a citizen of India or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state. However, such cases shall be decided by him only in consultation with the election commission. Further, he can send messages to either House of parliament whether with respect to a Bill then pending in parliament or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so sent shall with all convenient dispatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.(Article 86) It may be stated here that there is lack of unanimity on whether the president is to send messages only on the advice of the council of ministers or he is free to exercise this power in his discretion. This question first emerged when Dr. Rajendra Prasaad made it very clear to Jawahar lal Nehru that the power of the president to send messages to either House of Parliament was free from the advice of the council of ministers. Even today, similar view is considered to be valid. For details see JR Siwach, 1990) Moreover, the president has the power to summon, prorogue and dissolve the Parliament which in effect means the Lok sabha. On a simple reading, it will appear that the president performs all these legislative functions on the advice of the council of ministers. But in reality there are several grey areas that require a deeper analyses and scrutiny. For instance, there is a view of several constitutional experts in favour of the president‟s power to summon, prorogue or dissolve the parliament in case he is satisfied that the prime minister/ council of ministers is trying to avoid the parliament for personal/political/party ends or interests. For instance, the prime minister may try to avoid to convene the session of parliament in case he loses the majority or the council of ministers advises the president to prorogue the parliament when faced with the no confidence motion against the government or when the council of ministers advises the president to dissolve the parliament after it loses the confidence motion or if the no confidence motion is adopted against the government. There are instances when the president accepted the advice of the council of ministers to dissolve parliament and there are also examples of refusal by the president to do so. The then president dissolved the parliamentwhen Mrs Indira Gandhi advised the president, shri VV Giri, to dissolve the Lok Sabha and order fresh elections in 1970. But the same action was not taken by President N Sanjiva Reddy when he preferred to form alternative government instead of dissolving the parliament after the split of the janata party in 1979 and fall of the Morarji Desai government. Similarly, the advice of the then prime minister, VP Singh was also not accepted by the then president and an alternative government was formed under the leadership of Chandra Shekhar. However, he dissolved the Lok Sabha on the advice of the then respective prime ministers in 1979, 1991, 1997, 1999 and 2004. The opinion among the legal and constitutional experts is divided on the issue whether the president is bound to act on the advice of the council of ministers to dissolve the parliament and allow the cabinet to seek fresh mandate of the people. This variation is also reflected in the decisions of the several presidents in the matter. President nominates two Anglo- Indians to the Lok Sabha if there is no representation of this community after the general elections and twelve members to the Rajya Sabha from out of those who have special knowledge or practical experience in the field of Art, science, literature or social service. This power is exercised by him on the basis of the advice of the council of ministers. President has powers under Article 364 to make inapplicable a central or a state law either partly or wholly, in the national interest, to any Port or Aerodrome from any date he deems it necessary. Furhter, he can extend various provisions of the constitution of India to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the concurrence of that government, under Article 370. Power to make regulations for the peace, prosperity and good governance of all the union territories, except Delhi and Chandigarh, also lies with the president. The president delivers his address to the joint session of parliament at the first session each year as well as the first session after the elections to the Lok Sabha.The presence of the members of parliament at the time of address to such joint sessions may be made mandatory by the president