Articles 1 to 4 under Part-I of the Constitution deal with the Union and its territory.
Article 1 describes India that is Bharat as a ‘Union of States’. Although the Constitution is federal in structure, it describes India as ‘Union’. The federation is a Union because it is indestructible.
Article 2 gives the Parliament the power to admit into the Union of India new states and to establish new states.
Article 3 authorises the Parliament to: Form a new state by separation of territory from any state or by uniting two or more states or parts of states or by uniting any territory to a part of any state.
Integration of Princely States
At the time of Independence, India comprised two categories of political units, namely the British provinces and the princely states. Of the 552 princely states situated within the geographical boundaries of India, 549 joined India and the remaining three (Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir) refused to join India.
However, in course of time, they were also integrated with India—Hyderabad by means of police action, Junagarh by means of referendum and Kashmir by the
Instrument of Accession.
Reorganisation of states :
- After Independence, the demand for the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis was raised from different regions.
- The President of the Constituent Assembly, Dr Rajendra Prasad, appointed the S.K. Dhar Commission in 1947 to look into the matter of reorganisation of states on
- The Commission recommended, among other things, that the major consideration for the reorganisation of states should be administrative convenience.
- The Congress, in its Jaipur Session (1948), appointed at hree-member commi tt ee t o consider t herecommendations of the Dhar Commission.
- The members of this committee (popularly know as JVP Committee) were Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya.
- This committee also rejected the demand for the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis.
- After the report of the JVP Committee, Telugu-speaking people in Madras started a movement under the leadership of Potti Sriramulu.
Potti Sriramulu died after 56 days’ hunger strike.
- After the death of Sriramulu, the state of Andhra Pradesh was created by separating the Telugu-speaking areas from the state of Madras. Andhra Pradesh was the first linguistic state.
Fazl Ali Commission:
- The commission is commonly known as States Reorganisation Commission.
- The Government of India appointed a three-member state reorganisation commissionin 1953 under the chairmanship of Fazl Ali. Its other two members were KM Panikkar and Hriday Nath Kunzru.
- The commission submitted its report in 1955 and broadly accepted language as the basis for the reorganisation of states.
- The State Re-Organisation Act was passed in 1956. As a result 14 states and 6 UTs were created on November 1, 1956.
New States and Union Territories created after 1956
- In 1960, the bilingual state of Bombay was divided into two separate states—Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking people and Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people.
- The Portuguese ruled Dadra and Nagar Haveli until its liberation in 1954. Subsequently, it was converted into a union territory of India by the 10th Constitutional
Amendment Act, 1961.
- India acquired Goa, Daman and Diu from the Portuguese by means of a police action in 1961. They were constituted as a union territory by the 12th Constitutional
Amendment Act, 1962. Later, in 1987, Goa was conferred statehood. Consequently, Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.
- The French handed over Puducherry to India in 1954. Subsequently, it was administered as an ‘acquired territory’ till 1962, when it was made a union territory by
the 14th Constitutional Amendment Act.
- The 22nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1969) created Meghalaya as an ‘autonomous state’ or ‘sub-state’ within the state of Assam with its own legislature and
council of ministers. The union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were also formed out of the territories of Assam.
- Sikkim was made 22nd state of India under the 35th Constitutional Amendment Act (1974).
- In 1987, three new States of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa came into being as the 23rd, 24th and 25th states of the Indian Union respectively. The Union Territory of Mizoram was conferred the status of a full state.
- In 2000, three more new States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand were created out of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively.
The Indian Constitution provides for only a single citizenship that is Indian Citizenship. The Citizenship Act 1955 provides for the acquisition and loss of citizenship after the commencement of the Constitution.
Acquisition of Citizenship :
By Birth: A person born in India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 1st July 1987 is a citizen of India by birth irrespective of the nationality of his parents. A person born in India on or after 1st July 1987 is considered as a citizen of India only if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the
time of his birth.
By Descent: A person born outside India on or after 26 January 1950 but before 10th December 1992 is a citizen of India by descent, if his father was a citizen of India at the time of his birth. A person born outside India on or after 10 December 1992 is considered as a citizen of India if either of his parents is a citizen of India at the time of his birth.
By Registration: The Central Government may, on an application, register as a citizen of India any person (not being an illegal migrant) if he belongs to any of the following categories, namely
(a) a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
(b) a person of Indian origin who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India;
(c) a person who is married to a citizen of India and is ordinarily resident in India for seven years before making an application for registration;
(d) minor children of persons who are citizens of India.
By Incorporation of Territory: If any foreign territory becomes a part of India, the Government of India specifies the persons who among the people of the territory shall be the citizens of India.
Loss of Citizenship
By Renunciation: Any citizen of India of full age and capacity can make a declaration renouncing his Indian citizenship. Upon the registration of that declaration, that person ceases to be a citizen of India.
By Termination: When an Indian citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, his Indian citizenship automatically terminates.
By Deprivation: It is a compulsory termination of Indian citizenship by the Central government, if:
- The citizen has obtained the citizenship by fraud;
- The citizen has shown disloyalty to the Constitution of India;
- The citizen has unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy during a war;
- The citizen has, within five years after registration or naturalisation, been imprisoned in any country for two years; and
- The citizen has been ordinarily resident out of India for seven years continuously.
Part III of the Constitution is described as the magna carta of India. The Fundamental Rights are named so because they are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution.
Major characteristics of Fundamental Rights
- Some of them are available only to the citizens while others are available to all persons, whether citizens, foreigners or legal persons like corporations or
- They are justiciable, allowing persons to move the courts for their enforcement, if and when they are violated.
- They are defended and guaranteed by the Supreme Court. Hence, the aggrieved person can directly go to the Supreme Court.They can be suspended during the operation of a National Emergency except
- the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21. More, the six rights guaranteed by Article 19 can be suspended only when emergency is declared on the grounds of war or external aggression. Originally the Constitution provided for seven fundamental rghts.
1. Right to equality [Art. 14-18]
2. Right to freedom [Art. 19-22]
3. Right against exploitation [Art. 23-24].
4. Right to freedom [Art. 25-28]
5. Cultural and educational rights [Art. 29-30]
6. Right to property [Art. 31]
7. Right to constitutional remedies [Art. 32]
However, the ‘right to property’ was deleted from the list of fundamental rights by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978. It has been made a legal right under Article 300A in the Constitution. So, at present, there are only six fundamental rights.
Right to equality (Article 14 to 18)
Article 14: Article 14 says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 15: Article 15 provides that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Article 16: Article 16 provides that no citizen can be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the State on grounds of only religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or residence.
Article 17: Article 17 abolishes ‘untouchability’ and forbids its practice in any form.
Article 18: Article 18 prohibits the state from conferring any title (except a military or academic distinction) on anybody, whether a citizen or a foreigner. It also prohibits a citizen of India from accepting any title from any foreign state. Right to freedom (Articles 19-22)
Article 19: Article 19 guarantees six rights to all citizens.
(a) Right to freedom of speech and expression.
(b) Right to assemble peaceably and without arms.
(c) Right to form associations or unions.
(d) Right to move freely throughout the territory of India.
(e) Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
(f) Right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
Freedom of press comes under the freedom of speech and expression mentioned in Article 19. This also includes right to propagate one’s views, right to telecast,
right to know about the government, right against encroachment into one’s privacy, right to demonstration and picketing, etc.
Article 20: Article 20 grants protection against arbitrary and excessive punishment to an accused person, whether citizen or foreigner or legal person like a company or a corporation. It contains three provisions in that direction:
(i) No ex post facto law: No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act, nor subjected to a penalty greater than that prescribed by the law in force at the time of the commission of the act.
(ii) No double jeopardy: No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.
(iii) No self-incrimination: No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Article 21: Article 21 declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens.
Following are the important rights under Article 21 as declared by the Supreme Court:
Article 21 A declares that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such a manner as the State may determine. Thus, this provision makes only elementary education a Fundamental Right and not higher or professional education.
Article 22: Article 22 grants protection to persons who are arrested or detained. Detention is of two types, namely, punitive and preventive. Punitive detention is to punish a person for an offence committed by him after trial and conviction in a court. Preventive detention, on the other hand, means detention of a person without trial and conviction by a court. Its purpose is not to punish a person for a past offence but to prevent him from committing an offence in the near future.
Right against exploitation (Article 23-24)
Article 23: Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings, begar (forced labour) and other similar forms of forced labour. Any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens.
Article 24: Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory, mine or other hazardous activities like construction work or railway. But it does not prohibit their employment in any harmless or innocent work.
Right to freedom of religion (Article 25-28)
Article 25: Article 25 says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion. It covers not only religious beliefs (doctrines) but also religious practices (rituals). Moreover, these rights are available to all persons—citizens as well as non-citizens.
Article 26: According to Article 26, every religious denomination or any of its section shall have the following rights:
(i) Right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(ii) Right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(iii) Right to own and acquire movable and immovable property.
Article 27: Article 27 lays down that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.
Article 28: Under Article 28, no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.
Cultural and educational rights (Article 29-30)
Article 29: Article 29 provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same. Further, no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, or language.
Article 30: Article 30 grants the following rights to minorities, whether religious or linguistic:
(i) All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
(ii) In granting aid, the State shall not discriminate against any educational institution managed by a minority. Thus, the protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).
Right to property (Article 31): The right to property was deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978. It has been made a legal right under Article 300-A.
Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32):
A mere declaration of fundamental rights in the Constitution is meaningless, useless and worthless without providing an effective machinery for their enforcement, if and when they are violated. Hence, Article 32 confers the right to remedies for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of an aggrieved citizen, i.e. the right to get the Fundamental Rights protected is in itself a fundamental right. So, Dr. Ambedkar called Article 32 ‘Soul of the Constitution’. Any aggrieved person can move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights. The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights. The writs issued may include Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari
Writs: kinds and nature
The Supreme Court (under Article 32) and the High Courts (under Article 226) can issue the writs of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo Warranto.
Habeas Corpus: It literally means ‘to have the body of’. It is an order issued by the court to a person who has detained another person, to produce the body of the latter before it. The court then examines the cause and legality of detention. It would set the detained person free, if the detention is found to be illegal.
Mandamus: It literally means ‘we command’. It is a command issued by the court to a public official asking him to perform his official duties that he has failed or refused to perform. It can also be issued against any public body, a corporation, an inferior court, a tribunal or government for the same purpose.
Prohibition: It literally means ‘to forbid’. It is issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal to prevent the latter from exceeding its jurisdiction or usurping a jurisdiction that it does not possess. Thus, unlike Mandamus that directs activity, the prohibition directs inactivity. The writ of prohibition can be issued only against judicial and quasijudicial authorities. It is not available against administrative authorities,legislative bodies, and private individuals or bodies.
Certiorari: In the literal sense, it means ‘to be certified’ or ‘to be informed’. It is issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal either to transfer a case pending with the latter to itself or to squash the order of the latter in a case. It is issued on the grounds of excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction or error of law. Thus, unlike prohibition, which is only preventive, certiorari is both preventive as well as curative. Like prohibition, certiorari is also not available against legislative bodies and private individuals or bodies.
Quo Warranto: In the literal sense, it means ‘by what authority or warrant’. It is issued by the court to enquire into the legality of claim of a person to a public office. Hence, it prevents illegal usurpation of public office by a person.
Note: Rights outside Part III are:
Art. 300A: Right to acquire property.
Art. 326: Right to vote.
The phrase ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ denotes the ideals that the State should keep in mind while formulating policies and enacting laws. It includes the legislative and executive organs of the central and state governments, all local authorities and all other public authorities in the country.
The Directive Principles are non-justiciable in nature, that is, they are not legally enforceable by the courts for their violation. Therefore, the government cannot be compelled to implement them.
They aim at providing social and economic justice of the people.
Views of Constitutional and political experts on ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’:
K.T. Shah: ‘A cheque on a bank payable only when the resources of the bank permit.’
Nasiruddin: ‘No better than the new year’s resolution which are broken on the second of January’.
T.T. Krishnamachari: ‘A veritable dustbin of sentiments.’
K.C. Wheara: Manifesto of aims and aspirations.
B.N. Rao: Moral precepts for the authorities of the state. They have at least an educative value.
M.C. Chagla: ‘If all these principles are fully carried out, our country would indeed to be a heaven on earth.’
Article 38: Article 38 says that the state shall promote the welfare of the people by securing social, economic and political welfare of the people and strive to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities.
Article 39: ArtArticle 43 A: icle 39 says that the state shall strive to secure like the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, and opportunities for healthy development of children.
Article 39 A: Article 39 A pledges equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor.
Article 40: ArticArticle 48:le 40 stipulates to organise village panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them to function as units of selfgovernment.
Article 41: Article 41 secures the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.
Article 42: Article 42 makes provision for just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief.
Article 43: Article 43 secures a living wage, a decent standard of life and social and cultural opportunities for all workers.
Article 43 A takes steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries.
Article 47: Article 47 raises the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health. Some of the articles of the Directive Principles reflect the Gandhian ideologies. They include:
Article 43: Article 43 promotes cottage industries.
Article 46: Article 46 promotes the educational and economic interests of SCs, STs and other weaker sections of the society.
Article 47: Article 47 strives to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.
Article 48 strives to prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle. Remaining parts of the Directive Principles are based on the ideology of liberalism. They are:
Article 44: Article 44 pledges to secure for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country.
Article 45: Article 45 provides for early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
Article 48: Article 48 pledges to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.
Article 48 A: Article 48 A strives to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wild life.
Article 49: Article 49 strives to protect monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest which are declared to be of national importance.
Article 50: Article 50 pledges to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
Article 51: Article 51 says that the state shall strive to promote international peace and security and maintain just and honourable relations between nations; to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
Difference between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy
In 1976, the Fundamental Duties were added in the
Constitution on the recommendation of Sardar Swaran Singh
Committee [42nd Constitutional Amendment Act].
The fundamental duties are 11 in number.
Ten duties were included in the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act 1976 and the Eleventh duty was added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002.
There is no provistion in the Constitution for direct enforcement of any of these duties nor any sanction to prevent their violation
List of Fundamental Duties :
According to Article 51 A, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:
1. to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
2. to cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom;
3. to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
4. to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
5. to promote har mony and the spirit of commonbr ot herhood amongst al l t he peopl e of Indi a transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sect ional diver sit ies and t o renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
6. to value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture;
7. to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
8. to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
9. to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
10. to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement; and
11. to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 to 14 years. This duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002.
Articles 52 to 153 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the Union executive. The Union executive consists of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the council of ministers and the attorney general of India. The President is the head of the Indian State. He is the first citizen of India.
According to Article 52, the President is the head of the union executive, and according to Article 53, all executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
Article 54: Article 54 mentions the election of the President.
The President is elected not directly by the people but by members of electoral college consisting of:
(i) The elected members of both the Houses of Parliament;
(ii) The elected members of the legislative assemblies of the states; and
(iii) The elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
Article 55: According to Article 55, the number of votes which each elected member of the legislative assembly of each state and the Parliament is entitled to cast at such election is determined in the following manner:
The President’s election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot. Each member of the electoral college is given only one ballot paper.
The voter can indicate as many preferences as there are candidates in the fray.
Article 56: According to Article 56, the tenure of the President is 5 years.
Qualifications for election as President: A person to be eligible for election as President should fulfil the following qualifications:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should have completed 35 years of age.
- He should be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
- He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local authority or any other public authority.
Oath or affirmation by the President: The oath of office to the President is administered by the Chief Justice of India and, in his absence, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available.
Conditions of President’s office :
- The Constitution lays down the following conditions for the President’s office:
- He should not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the state legislature.
- He should not hold any other office of profit.
- He is entitled, without payment of rent, to the use of his official residence.
- He is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament.
- His emoluments and allowances cannot be diminished during his term of office.
- In 2008, the Parliament increased the salary of the President from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.50 lakh per month and the pension to 50% of his salary per month
Term of President’s Office: The President shall not, withstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office. The President shall hold office for five years in general. Removal of President shall be as follows:
(i) President may resign by writing to Vice-President.
(ii) President may, for violation of the Constitution, be removed from office by impeachment [Art. 61].
Note: The President can defend himself by taking services of the Attorney-General of India or any other lawyer of his choice.
Powers and functions of the President :
Executive powers :
The executive powers and functions of the President are:
1. All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
2. According to article 75 he appoints the Prime Minister of India and according to Article 77 with consent of the Prime Minister he appoints the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.
3. He appoints the Attorney-General of Indi a, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Chief Elect ion Commissi oner and ot her Elect ion Commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of Finance Commission, and administrators of UTs and so on.
4. He can seek any information relating to the administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the prime minister.
5. He can appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of SCs, STs and other backward classes.
6. He can appoint an inter-state council to promote Centrestate and inter-state cooperation.
Legislative powers :
The President is an integral part of the Parliament of India, and enjoys the following legislative powers.
1. He can summon or prorogue the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha. [Art. 85]
2. He can also summon a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament, which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. [Art. 108]
3. He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year. [Art. 87]
4. He can send messages to the Houses of Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise.
5. He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant.
6. He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service. [Art. 80(1)]
7. The President is empowered to nominate not more than two Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha, if that community is not adequately represented in that House. [Art. 331]
8. His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bill in the Parliament. For example, a bill involvi ng expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, or a bill for the alteration of boundaries of states or creation of a new state.
9. When a bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can give his assent, withhold his assent or return the bill for reconsideration of the parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament, with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.
10. When a bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the governor for consideration of the President, the President can give his assent, withhold it or direct the governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature. It should be noted here that it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration.
11. According to Article 123, he can promulgate ordinances when the Parliament is not in session. An ordinance issued under Art. 123 must receive approval of Parliament (both the houses) within six weeks of reassembly of the parliament.
Financial Powers :
The financial powers and functions of the President are:
1. Money bills can be introduced in the Parliament only with his prior recommendation.
2. He causes to be laid before the Parliament the Union Budget.
3. No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation.
4. He can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
5. According to Article 280, he constitutes a Finance Commission after every five years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the states.
Judicial Powers :
The judicial powers and functions of the President are:
1. He appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.
2. He can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact. However, the advice tendered by the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.
Pardoning Power: The President has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions or punishments or to suspend, remit or commute the sentences of any person in all cases.
The President is the only authority to grant pardons in case of death sentence on the advice of council of ministers. [Art. 72]
Diplomatic Powers: The international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. He represents India in international forums and affairs and sends and receives diplomat like ambassadors, high commissioners, and so on.
Military Powers: He is the supreme commander of the defence forces of India. In that capacity, he appoints the chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
The Constitution confers extraordinary powers on the President to deal with the following three types of emergencies:
(i) National Emergency (Article 352)
(ii) President’s Rule (Article 356 & 365)
(iii) Financial Emergency (Article 360)
Veto power of the President: A bill passed by the Parliament can become an act only if it receives the assent of the President. However, the President has the veto power over the bills passed by the Parliament, i.e. he can withhold his assent to the bills.
It refers to the power of the President to withhold his assent to a bill passed by the Parliament. The bill then ends and does not become an act. Usually, this veto is exercised in the following two cases:
With respect to private members’ bills; and
With respect to the government bills when the cabinet resigns (after the passage of the bills but before the assent by the President) and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.
The President exercises this veto when he returns a bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament with or without amendments and again presented to the President, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the bill. The President does not possess this veto in the case of money bills.
In this case, the President neither ratifies nor rejects nor returns the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period. This power of the President not to take any action (either positive or negative) on the bill is known as pocket veto. There is no time limit for the President to give comment on bills under this veto.
The Vice-President occupies the second highest office in the country. He is accorded a rank next to the President in the official warrant of precedence.
- He is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament. Thus, this electoral college is different from the electoral college for the election of the President in the following two respects:
- It consists of both elected and nominated members of the Parliament.
- It does not include the members of the state legislative assemblies.
- The Vice-President’s election, like that of the President’s election, is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot.
To be eligible for election as Vice-President, a person should fulfil the following qualifications:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should have completed 35 years of age.
- He should be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local authority or any other public authority.
Oath or affirmation
The oath of office to the Vice-President is administered by the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him.
Term of office
The Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the President. He can also be removed from the office before completion of his term. A formal impeachment is not required for his removal. He can be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by an absolute majority.
On the vacancy of the post of the Vice-President, whether by death, resignation or otherwise, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha takes charge until a Vice-President is elected and takes charge.
Powers and functions :
The functions of Vice-President are twofold:
1. He acts as the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. In this capacity, his powers and functions are similar to those of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
2. He acts as President when a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, removal, death or otherwise. He can act as President only for a maximum period of six months, within which a new President has to be elected. Further, when the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office.
- While acting as President or discharging the functions of President, the Vice-President does not perform the duties of the office of the chairman of Rajya Sabha. During this period, those duties are performed by the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- If the offices of both the President and the Vice-President fall vacant by reason of death, resignation, removal etc the Chief Justice of India or in his absence the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court acts as President.
- For the first time, during the 15-day visit of Dr. Rajendra Prasad to the Soviet Union in June 1960, the then VicePresident Dr. Radhakrishnan acted as the President.
- For the first time, in 1969, when the President Dr. Zakir Hussain died and the Vice-President V.V. Giri resigned, the Chief Justice Md. Hidayatullah acted as President.
In the scheme of parliamentary system of government provided by the Constitution, the President is the nominal executive authority and Prime Minister is the real executive authority. The President is the head of the State while Prime Minister is the head of the government.
Appointment of the Prime Minister :
Article 75 says that the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President. The President appoints the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha as the Prime Minister. But, when no
party has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, then the President may exercise his personal discretion in the selection and appointment of the Prime Minister.
The term of the Prime Minister is not fixed and he holds office during the pleasure of the President. So long as the Prime Minister enjoys the majority support in the Lok Sabha, he cannot be dismissed by the President. However, if he loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha, he must resign or the President can dismiss him.
Powers and functions of Prime Minister :
- The powers and functions of Prime Minister can be studied under the following heads:
- He recommends persons who can be appointed as ministers by the President.
- He can recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha to the President at any time.
- He is the chairman of the Planning Commission, National Development Council, National Integration Council, Inter-State Council and National Water Resources Council.
As the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government modelled on the British pattern, the council of ministers headed by the prime minister is the real executive authority is our politico-administrative system. The principles of parliamentary system of government are not detailed in the Constitution, but two Articles (74 and 75) deal with them in a broad, sketchy and general manner. Article 74 deals with the status of the council of ministers while Article 75 deals with the appointment, tenure, responsibility, qualification, oath and salaries and allowances of the ministers.
Constitutional provision :
There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President, who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice.
- The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- The total number of ministers, including the Prime Minister, in the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha. [91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003]
The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
- A person who is not a member of either House can also become a minister but he cannot continue as minister for more than six months unless he secures a seat in either House of Parliament (by election/nomination). [Art. 75(5)]
The council of ministers consists of three categories: cabinet ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers.
Cabinet Ministers: The cabinet ministers head the important ministries of the Central government like home, defence, finance and external affairs.
Ministers of State: The ministers of state can either be given independent charge of ministries/departments or can be attached to cabinet ministers.
Deputy Ministers: The deputy ministers are not given independent charge of ministries/departments and always assist the Cabinet or State Minister or both. They are not members of the cabinet and do not attend cabinet meetings.
Minster may be taken from members of either House and minister who is member of one House has the right to speak and take part in the proceedings of the other House but cannot vote in the House of which he is not member. [Art. 88]
If the Prime Minister resigns or passes away, the entire
ministry goes out automatically.
Parliament is the legislative organ of the Union government. [Articles 79 to 122 in Part V of the Constitution]
Article 79 provides that there shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known as the council of states (Rajya Sabha or Upper House) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha or Lower House).
- Parliament has financial control over the executive.
- Parliament is the sole authority to raise the taxes.
Rajya Sabha :
The Rajya Sabha was first constituted on 3rd April 1952 and it held its first sitting on 13th May 1952.
The maximum strength of the Rajya Sabha is fixed at 250, out of which, 238 are to be the representatives of the states and union territories and 12 are to be nominated by the President.
Representation of States: The Rajya Sabha represents the States and Union Territories of the Indian Union. The representatives of states in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The seats are allotted to the states in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of population.
Representati on of Uni on Terri tori es: The representatives of each Union Territory in the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college specially constituted for the purpose. This election is also held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Out of the seven Union Territories, only Delhi and Puducherry have representation in Rajya Sabha.
Nominated Members: The president nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha from people who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service.
Duration of the Rajya Sabha
The Rajya Sabha (first constituted in 1952) is a continuing chamber, that is, it is a permanent body and not subject to dissolution. However, one-third of its members retire every second year. Their seats are filled up by fresh elections and presidential nominations at the beginning of every third year. The Representation of the People Act (1951) provided that the term of office of a member of the Rajya Sabha shall be six years.
Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President, he
does not perform the duties of the office of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
The Deputy Chairman is elected by the Rajya Sabha itself from amongst its members. The Deputy Chairman performs the duties of the Chairman’s office when it is vacant or when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President.
Special Powers of the Rajya Sabha
Some resolutions can be initiated only in the Rajya Sabha, e.g.,
(i) Any resolution seeking creation of one or more All-India Services.
(ii) A resolution seeking the removal of the Vice-President. [Art. 67]
(iii) A resolution seeking legislation on any subject of the state list. [Art. 249]
Qualifications for Election to the Rajya Sabha
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should not be less than 30 years of age.
- He should not hold any office of profit.
- He must be a registered voter, an ordinary citizen in the state or Union territory from where he is intended to be chosen.
Note: UP has the largest number of Rajya Sabha seats (31) and Maharashtra second largest (19), while all the states of the North East, except Assam, have one seat each.
Lok Sabha :
- The maximum strength of the Lok Sabha is fixed at 552. Out of this, 530 members are to be the representatives of the states, 20 members are to be the representatives of the Union
Territories and 2 members are to be nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
- At present there are 545 members in Lok Sabha, of which 530 are from states, 13 from UTs and 2 members are nominated by the President.
Note: The Parliament has frozen the representation of States and UTs in Lok Sabha at 543 till 2026 AD.
Representation of States: The representatives of states in the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people from the territorial constituencies in the states. The election is based on the principle of universal adult franchise.
Representation of Union Territories: The members of Lok Sabha from the Union Territories are also chosen by direct election.
Nominated Members: The President can nominate two members from the Anglo-Indian community if the community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha.
Duration of the Lok Sabha: Unlike the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha is not a continuing chamber. Its normal term is five years, from the date of its first meeting after the general elections, after which it automatically dissolves. However, the President is authorised to dissolve the Lok Sabha at any time even before the completion of five years and this cannot be challenged in a court of law.
Note: The normal term of the Lok Sabha can be extended by an Act passed by Parliament itself during Emergency.
Speaker of the Lok Sabha: The Speaker is the Chief Presiding Officer of the Lok Sabha. The Speaker is elected by the Lok Sabha from amongst its members [Art. 93]. He has the responsibility to uphold the dignity and privileges of the House.
It should be noted here that, whenever the Lok Sabha is dissolved, the Speaker does not vacate his office and continues till the newly elected Lok Sabha meets.
- Roles, Powers and Functions of the Speaker: The Speaker is the head of the Lok Sabha. He is the guardian of powers and privileges of the members, the House as a whole and its committees.The Speaker of the Lok Sabha has the following powers and duties:
1. He maintains order and decorum in the House for conducting its business and regulating its proceedings.
2. He adjourns the House or suspends the meeting in absence of a quorum.
3. He decides whether a bill is a money bill or not.
Oath of Speaker: There is no procedure of oath swearing for the speaker.
Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha
Like the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker is also elected by the Lok Sabha itself from amongst its members. The Deputy Speaker remains in office usually during the life of the Lok
Sabha. He performs the duties of the Speaker’s office when it is vacant.
Pro tem Speaker
As provided by the Constitution, the Speaker of the last Lok Sabha vacates his office immediately before the first meeting of the newly elected Lok Sabha. Therefore, the President appoints a member of the Lok Sabha as the Pro tem Speaker. Usually, the seniormost member is selected for this. The President himself administers oath to the Pro tem Speaker. The Pro tem Speaker has all the powers of the Speaker. He presides over the first sitting of the newly elected Lok Sabha. His main duty is to administer oath to the new members.
Qualifications for Election as a Lok Sabha member
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should not be less than 25 years of age.
- He should be a r egi ster ed vot er in any of the Parliamentary Constituencies in India.
- He should not hold any office of profit.
Note: 1. The Constitution provides that a Money Bill can only originate in Lok Sabha and cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha.
2. UP has the largest number of Lok Sabha seats (80) followed by Maharashtra (48).
Sessions of Parliament :
The President from time to time summons each House of Parliament to meet. But, the maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months. In
other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year.
There are usually three sessions in a year:
the Budget Session (February to May);
the Monsoon Session (July to September); and
the Winter Session (November to December).
The period between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called ‘recess’.Joint Sitting
Under Article 108, there is a Provision of Joint sitting of both the Houses of the Parliament.
The Lok Sabha speaker presides over the joint sitting [Art. 118(4)].
There are only three occasions in the history of Indian
Parliament that the joint sessions of the Parliament took place. They are as follows:
(i) In May 1961, for Dowry Prohibition Bill, 1959.
(ii) In May 1978 for Banking Services Commission.
(iii) In 2002 for POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act).
Joint sitting of both Houses can be convened on two occasions:
(i) For resolving any deadlock over the passage of a Bill.
(ii) Speci al addr ess by t he Pr esident at t he commencement of the first session after each general election of the Lok Sabha; First Session of each year (the Budget Session).
Note: Joint sitting cannot be called for resolving deadlock regarding “Money Bill” and “Constitution Amendment Bill”.
The presiding officer (Speaker or Chairman) declares the House adjourned sine die, when the business of a session is completed. Within the next few days, the President issues a notification for prorogation of the session. However, the President can also prorogue the House while in session.
This is a short recess within a session of the Parliament, called by the presiding officer of the House. Its duration may be from a few minutes to days together.
Adjournment sine die
When the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die.
Note: Quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present in the House before it can transact any business. It is one-tenth of the total number of members in each House including the presiding officer. It means that the Quorum consists of 55 members in Lok Sabha and 25 members in Rajya Sabha.
The Constitution has declared Hindi and English to be the languages for transacting business of the Houses. It can permit a member to address the House in his mothertongue.
Legislative procedures in Parliament
The legislative procedure is identical in both the Houses of Parliament. Every bill has to pass through the same stages in each House. A bill is a proposal for legislation and it becomes an act or law when duly enacted.
Bills introduced in the Parliament are of two kinds: public bills and private bills (also known as government bills and private members’ bills respectively). Though both are governed by the same general procedure and pass through the same stages in the House, they differ in various respects.
The bills introduced in the Parliament can also be classified into four categories:
1. Ordinary bills
2. Money bills
3. Financial bills
4. Constitution amendment bills
Ordinary Bills :
All the bills other Than Financial bills, Money bills and Constitution Amendment bills are ordinary bills.
Such bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament without the recommendation of the President. These bills are passed by a simple majority in both the Houses.
Money Bills :
Article 110 of the Constitution deals with the definition of money bills. It states that a bill is deemed to be a money bill if it contains ‘only’ provisions dealing with all or any of the
- The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
- The regulation of the borrowing of money by the Union government;
- The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund;
- The appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
- Declarat ion of any expendit ure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or increasing the amount of any such expenditure;
- The receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a state.
If any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha is final.
His decision in this regard cannot be questioned in any court of law or in either House of Parliament or even the President.
The Constitution lays down a special procedure for the passing of money bills in the Parliament. A money bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and that too on the recommendation of the president. Every such bill is considered to be a government bill and can be introduced only by a minister.
After a money bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, it is transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for its consideration. The Rajya Sabha has restricted powers with regard to a money bill. It cannot reject or amend a money bill. It can only make the recommendations. It must return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, whether with or without recommendations.
Financial Bills :
Financial bills are those bills that deal with fiscal matters, that is, revenue or expenditure. However, the Constitution uses the term ‘financial bill’ in a technical sense. Financial bills are
of three kinds:
1. Money bills—Article 110
2. Financial bills (I)—Article 117 (1)
3. Financial bills (II)—Article 117 (3)
This classification implies that money bills are simply a species of financial bills. Hence, all money bills are financial bills but all financial bills are not money bills. Only those financial bills are money bills which contain exclusively those matters which are mentioned in Article 110 of the Constitution. These are also certified by the Speaker of Lok Sabha as money bills. The financial bills (I) and (II), on the other hand, have been dealt with in Article 117 of the Constitution.
Constitution Amendment Bills :
Under Article 368, with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution, this Bill can be introduced in any of the two Houses without recommendation of the President.
Such Bill must be passed by each House separately with a special majority.
Note: By the 24th Constitution Amendment Act, 1971, it is obligatory for the President to give his assent to the ‘Constitutional Amendment Bill’.
Important Committees of Parliament :
Public Accounts Committee :
This committee was set up first in 1921 under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1919 and has since been in existence.
At present, it consists of 22 members (15 from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha).
The term of office of the members is one year. A minister cannot be elected as a member of the committee.
The function of the committee is to examine the annual audit reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which are laid before the Parliament by the president.
Note: Since 1967 the Chairman of the Committee has been selected invariably from the Opposition.
Estimates Committee :
The first Estimates Committee in the post-Independence era was constituted in 1950 on the recommendation of John Mathai, the then finance minister.
Originally, it had 25 members but in 1956 its membership was raised to 30. All the 30 members are from the Lok Sabha only.
These members are elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members.
The term of office is one year. A minister cannot be elected as a member of the committee.
The function of the committee is to examine the estimates included in the budget and suggest ‘economies’ in public expenditure.
Committee on Public Undertakings :
This committee has 22 members (15 from the Lok Sabha and 7 from the Rajya Sabha). The members are elected by the Parliament every year from amongst its members. The term of
office of the members is one year. A minister cannot be elected as a member of the committee.
The functions of the committee are:
To examine the reports and accounts of public undertakings.
To examine whether the affairs of the public undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices.