Despite being in the position of a titular Head of the State, the role of President of India in Indian democracy has been more than just symbolic. Comment.

Despite being in the position of a titular Head of the State, therole of President of India in Indian democracy has been more than just symbolic. Comment.

Approach:

  • In the introduction, briefly talk about the Constitutional status of the President of India
  • Analyze the institution of President for being symbolic/substantive
  • Explain how over the last seven decades the institution of President has evolved
  • Conclude by giving your opinion on the issue
Model Answer :

The Preamble of Indian Constitution clearly articulates India as a Republic, signifying that India has an elected Head of the State. The Constitution envisaged this institution to maintain continuity in administration. Since the President is Constitutionally bound to act on the advise of the Council of Ministers and has few discretionary powers, he/she is referred to as the titular head of the State.

However, the Constitution of India and conventions provide several discretionary powers to the President of India, which shows that its institution is more than just symbolic:

  • In case of a hung Parliament, the President may invite the leader of the party he deems capable of proving its majority to form the government.
  • U/Art. 78(c) he can use his discretion to enforce collective responsibility of the CoM
  • He can exercise what are referred to as Suspensive Veto and Pocket Veto to halt legislation that he deems unconstitutional or not in good faith

Over the last seven decades, notwithstanding some instances like proclamation of emergency under pressure from the then Prime Minister, the Presidents have been a significant presence in keeping a watch over state of affairs. For instance:

  • Dr Rajendra Prasad believed that the President was not bound to accept all the pieces of advice of the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers.
  • Pocket Veto was used in 1986 by the then President Zail Singh in the Postal (Amendment) Bill. The President did not assent to the bill by arguing that the scope of the bill was too sweeping which would give the government arbitrary powers to intercept postal communications indiscriminately.
  • In mid-2006, President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam sent back a controversial bill regarding the exclusion of certain offices from the scope of ‘offices of profit’.

Thus, it can be said that the Presidents of India have fulfilled greater roles in shaping the nation and have not remained mere figureheads. In a country marked by immense diversity of language, culture, preferences, and leadership, the Indian Presidents have served to remain a strong unifying factor and symbol of the nation’s prestige.

Subjects : Polity

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