The powers of the President may be discussed under the following heads.
The President is not a member of either House of the Parliament. But he is an integral part of the legislative process. He plays an important role in the making of laws. Lawmaking is not initiated by him. But he can significantly influence it.
(a) Summoning the House-
The President has the power to summon and prorogue the two Houses of Parliament. He has also the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha.
The President can summon joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. If there are differences between the two Houses, he can ask them to sit together to resolve those differences.
(b) Addressing the Houses-
The President may address each House separately or he may address them jointly. When the first session of each is commences, or when the Lok Sabha meets after a General Election, the President addresses the joint-sitting of both Houses. Besides this, he can also address each House or their joint sitting any time.
(c) Sending Message-
The President has the power to send messages to either House of Parliament either regarding any pending bill or any other matter. It may, however, be noted that the President so far has not sent any message either to the Lok Sabha or to the Rajya Sabha.
The President nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha from among those who are eminently known in the fields of Literature, Science, Art or Social Services. He also nominates two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian community, if it is not properly represented in that House.
(e) Giving Assent to the Bill-
No bill passed by the Parliament can become a law without the assent of the President. There are certain bills which cannot be introduced in the Parliament without the permission of the President. Similarly, without his prior permission, some specified bills cannot be introduced in state legislatures. For example, such bills which seek to redistribute territory of states or alter their names, boundaries or areas, cannot be introduced in the Parliament without the prior consent of the President.
For introducing Money Bills in the Parliament, the prior authorization of the President is required. A bill aiming at imposing certain restrictions on the freedom of trade, commerce or intercourse within the state cannot be introduced within the state legislature if the prior authorization of the President has not been obtained.
A bill duly passed by the Parliament is sent to the President for his assent. It becomes an Act when the President gives his assent to it. The President may send back a bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. But if the bill, after such reconsideration, is again presented to him for his assent, he is bound to give assent to it.
He has also the power to withhold assent from a bill. But when a Money Bill, being duly passed by the Parliament comes to him, he cannot return it for reconsideration. It is obligatory on his part to give assent to a Money bill because it is introduced in the Lok Sabha with his prior sanction.
There is no time-limit regarding the presidential assent to the bills passed by the Parliament. The constitution simply says that if the President wants to return a bill for reconsideration, he has Jo do it ‘as soon as possible.’ How long or short a period this phrase, ‘as soon as possible’ implies is not clear. A President may defeat the purpose of a bill by just remaining silent a state Governor has the discretion to reserve a bill for the assent of the President.
When a bill, passed by the state legislature, is sent to the Governor for his assent, he may send it to the President for his consideration. The President may give assent to such a bill, may withhold his assent from it or he may return it for reconsideration. When, after reconsideration, the bill is again presented to the President, he is not bound to give assent to it. He may give his assent to the bill or he may veto it. Further, there is no time limit regarding the presidential assent to a state bill when it first comes to him.
The constitution has not fixed any time limit regarding it. When two different political parties are in power at the centre and in a state, the central government can create problems for the state by directing the Governor to reserve certain bills for presidential assent and by advising the President to remain silent about them or to veto them.
The President has the power to promulgate ordinance during the recess of Parliament. When the Parliament is not in session, the President can promulgate an ordinance to meet some exigency. When both Houses of Parliament are not in session, under Article 123, the President can promulgate an ordinance if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen which makes it necessary for him to take ‘immediate action.’ An ordinance has the same force as an Act of Parliament. It has to be approved by both Houses within 6 weeks of their reassembly.
Otherwise, it will cease to operate after the expiry of 6 weeks from the date of the reassembly of the Parliament. An ordinance is of temporary duration. It can be withdrawn by the President. It can also be revoked if it is disapproved by both Houses of Parliament by adopting resolutions to that effect.
The possibility of the President misusing his ordinance power cannot be ruled out. He may abuse this power in the interest of the party in power, because he normally acts on the advice of the Cabinet. But if somebody feels that the President has misused his ordinance power, he can challenge his action in the court of law. The ordinance power of President is not immune from scrutiny by the Court of Law.
(g) Regulation of Union Territories-
The President has the power to make regulations for the administration of Union Territories.