Constitutional Democracy of India

12. The Position of the president:

The Position of the president: There is no unanimity among the constitutional experts, politicians and the academicians about the position of the president of India. This has been the case right from the constituent Assembly debates till to day.Even the occupants of the office from the first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad to the present incumbent, shri Pranab Mukherji.Even the framers of the constitution, instead of providing it clearly in the constitution that the president shall act only on the advice of the council of ministers, left it to the wisdom of the president who will follow the british traditions in this respect and would never think of acting as the real head of the state. But, it became very clear that Dr. Rajendra Prasad was not that convinced about the position of the president to that of a titular Head. This is evident from the exchange of letters between Dr. Rajendra Prasad and jawahar lal Nehru on the relationship between the president and the cabinet and the prime minister on several occasions like on the Hindu code Bill. His opinion found expression when he laid the foundation stone of the national law institute. The later presidents have also proved by their actions and statements that they were not supposed to be rubber stamps of the executive. The actions of Dr. Radha Krishanan, N. Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, R. Venkat raman, Dr. Shankar dayal Sharma, KR Narayanan, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and now Pranab Mukherji have established that the president has the right to warn, to suggest and to guide the cabinet, but can also act as a check on the hasty and motivated or unfederal advice of the cabinet. This is so even after it was provided in the constitution through 42 and 44 Constitutional Amendments that the president shall act in accordance with the advice tendered to him by the cabinet. At the same time, there have been presidents like Dr. Zakir Husain, VV Giri, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Pratibha Patil who had chosen for them the role of a constitutional head without having any real powers to take decisions in his discretion. In the end, it can be concluded that the president of India, though largely a figure Head, can act in his discretion in some exceptional situations specially in matters of dissolution of parliament, issue of ordinances, appointment of prime minister, deciding the cases of disqualification of MPs on account , among others, of holding the office of profit or sending the advice of the cabinet for reconsideration of the cabinet. Dr. Rajvir Sharma Former Associate professor in Political Science