The President of India has been given wide and far-reaching powers which he enjoys both during normal and emergency times. But after the passing if the Constitution Forty-Second (1976) and Forty-Fourth (1978) Amendment Acts, the President of our Republic has become a Constitutional figurehead and nothing beyond that.
Today, President’s position is one of great authority and dignity, but at the same time strictly constitutional. Thus, the President is bound in every case to act on the advice of his Prime Minister and other Ministers who are responsible to the Lok Sabha and responsive to the public opinion. The powers really reside in the Ministry and the Parliament and not in the President as such. He has no discretion in our Parliamentary system of government.
The Supreme Court through various decisions has upheld the position that the President is a constitutional head and he is as much bound by the advice of his Ministers during emergency as during normal times.
For example: the President can declare a proclamation of the National Emergency (Article 352) only after receiving a written communication of the decision of the Union Cabinet. If the President abuses his powers, he can be removed from office by a process of impeachment.
However the President is not a mere figure-head. Unlike the British Monarchy which is hereditary, the President of our Republic is an elected Head of the State. In our coalition politics, there are some grey areas where the President may still have to use his own judgment and wisdom.
These are :
• Appointment of the Prime Minister,
• Dismissal of the Union Ministry,
• Dissolution of the Lok Sabha, and,
• Seeking information on all matters of administration and legislation from the Prime Minister etc.