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CBSE Notes | Class 11 | Political Science | Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter 4 - The Executive

The chapter introduces students to the different types of executives: parliamentary & bureaucratic. The chapter talks about the executives like President, vice president, ministers and bureaucrats, along with the functions they perform in a democracy like India.

The Executive

What Is An Executive?

The organ of government that primarily looks after the function of implementation and administration is called the executive.

What are the principal functions of the Executive?

An executive is the branch of government responsible for the implementation of laws and policies adopted by the legislature.

The executive is often involved in the framing of policy. Some countries have presidents, while others have chancellors. The executive branch is not just about presidents, prime ministers and ministers. It also extends to the administrative machinery (civil servants).

Different Types of Executive

There are various types of political systems in which different executives command different political sectors:

  • Presidential system: The president is the Head of the state as well as the head of government. In this system, the office of the president is very powerful, both in theory and practice.

    Countries: United States, Brazil and most nations in Latin America.

  • Semi-Presidential Executive: Under the system of Executive Presidency, people directly elect the President. It may happen that both the President and the Prime Minister belong to the same political party or to different political parties.

    Countries: France, Russia, Sri Lanka

  • Parliamentary System: The prime minister is the head of government. Most parliamentary systems have a president or a monarch who is the nominal Head of state. The role of the president or monarch is primarily ceremonial and the prime minister along with the cabinet wields effective power.

    Countries: Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom as well as Portugal.

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Parliamentary Executive in India

India already had some experience running the parliamentary system under the Acts of 1919 and 1935. This experience had shown that in the parliamentary system, the executive can be effectively controlled by the representatives of the people.

Why did India opt for the Parliamentary Form of government?

Indian Constitution wanted to ensure that the government would be sensitive to public expectations and would be responsible and accountable.

The presidential executive puts much emphasis on the president as the chief executive and as a source of all executive power.

There is always the danger of personality cult in the presidential executive. The executive will be answerable to and controlled by the legislature or people‘s representatives.

What is the Parliamentary Form of System?

President who is the formal Head of the state of India and the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, which run the government at the national level. At the State level, the executive comprises the Governor and the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.

The President

  • The highest executive authority.

  • The constitution vests in him all executive powers of the Union.

  • Head of the state and represents the Republic of India.

  • The first Citizen of India.

Article 58: deals with the qualification of a person to be the president of India.

  • Must be a citizen of India

  • Completed the age of 35 years

  • Must be qualified to become a member of Lok Sabha

  • He should not hold any office of profit under the government.

What is the Procedure of the Election of the President?

The President of India is not directly elected by the people, but by the members of the Electoral College:

  • Members of both the houses of the parliament

  • Members of the legislative assembly of the state

  • Elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi and Puducherry.

What are the Powers and the Function of the President?

The President of India has a very important role in our democracy. The power of president can be exercised in normal time and in the period of emergency.

Executive powers Of the President

Following members are appointed by the President:

  • The Prime Minister and other councils of ministers.

  • Chief Justice & Judges of Supreme Court and High Court

  • Chairman & members of UPSC

  • CAG, Attorney General

  • Chief Election Commissioner etc.

Legislative Powers

  • The president can summon propagation & dissolution of Lok Sabha.

  • Summon Joint Sitting of both  the houses of the Parliament

  • The president can also pass ordinances during the recess of Parliament.

Judicial Powers

  • In Article 72 the judicial powers of the president preside.

  • The president can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of any convicted person under central laws.

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Pardoning Powers of the President

The President of India takes an action over the case of punishment or the sentence of any person convicted for an offence, it takes the form of his pardoning powers.

They are of five types:

  • Pardon

  • Reprieve

  • Remit

  • Respite

  • Commute

The president is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

Emergency Powers of the President

The president in India Can Proclaim an Emergency in three conditions:

  • National Emergency ( Article 352): Arising out of war, external aggression or armed rebellion within the country

  • Constitutional Emergency (Article 356): In case of failure of the constitutional machinery in the states. (President’s Rule)

  • Financial Emergency (Article 360): Arise in case of a threat to the financial stability or credit of India.

Article 74 (1): There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall exercise the functions, act following such advice. The President may require the Council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, and the president shall act by the advice tendered after such reconsideration.

What are the Discretionary Powers of the President?

The President has a right to be informed of all important matters and deliberations of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister is obliged to furnish all the information that the President may call for. The President often writes to the Prime Minister and expresses his views on matters confronting the country.

The Powers that the president can exercise at his own discretion:

  • Reconsideration

  • Veto Power

  • Appointment of the Prime Minister in case of no clear majority.

The President has the authority to request that the Council reconsider their decision. He has the veto power to withhold or refuse to give assent to bills passed by Parliament (other than money bills).

Before becoming law, every bill passed by Parliament is sent to the President for his signature. The President has the authority to send the bill back to Parliament for reconsideration.

This'veto power' is limited because if Parliament passes the same bill again and sends it back to the President, the President is required to give his assent to it. The President must, however, send the bill back to Congress for reconsideration within a certain time frame, which is not specified in the Constitution.

This means that the President can keep the bill pending in his office indefinitely. This gives the President an unofficial power to wield the veto effectively. This is referred to as a "pocket veto" by some.

When no candidate wins a clear majority in the Lok Sabha after an election, the President must choose a Prime Minister. In such a situation, the President must rely on his own judgement to determine who has the majority's support or who can actually form and run the government.

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Vice President

Vice presidents are elected for a five-year term. The process is similar to that of electing the President, with the exception that members of state legislatures are not included in the Electoral College.

A resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority and approved by the Lok Sabha may be used to remove him from office. Acts as ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and assumes the role of President in the event of a vacancy caused by death, resignation, impeachment, or other means.

Acts as President for a limited period of time until a new President is elected.

Prime Ministers And The Council Of Ministers

In our country, the Prime Minister has become the most important government functionary. The Prime Minister is also known as the "Head of the Council of Ministers." Only on the advice of the Council of Ministers does the President exercise his powers.

The Prime Minister must have the support of a majority of the Lok Sabha members in the parliamentary form of government. The Prime Minister wields tremendous power as a result of the majority's support.

In addition to deciding who will serve as ministers in the Council of Ministers, it also assigns ministers ranks and portfolios. Ministers are ranked as cabinet ministers, ministers of State, or deputy ministers, depending on their seniority and political importance.

Similarly, state chief ministers select ministers from their own political party or coalition. All ministers, including the Prime Minister, must be members of Parliament. If someone becomes a minister or Prime Minister without first being elected to Parliament, they must do so within six months.

Size of the Council of Ministers

An amendment was made that the Council of Ministers shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of members of the House of People (or Assembly, in the case of the States). Collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. This provision means that a Ministry which loses confidence in the Lok Sabha is obliged to resign.

The principle indicates that the ministry is an executive committee of the Parliament and it collectively governs on behalf of the Parliament.

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Collective Responsibility

  • Based on the principle of the solidarity of the cabinet.

  • Implies that a vote of no confidence even against a single minister leads to the resignation of the entire Council of Ministers.

  • Also indicates that if a minister does not agree with a policy or decision of the cabinet, he or she must either accept the decision or resign.

  • It is binding on all ministers to pursue or agree to a policy for which there is a collective responsibility.

When the Prime Minister dies or resigns, the Council of Ministers is automatically dissolved, but a minister's death, dismissal, or resignation only creates a ministerial vacancy. The Prime Minister, on the one hand, acts as a link between the Council of Ministers and the President, as well as the Parliament.

All major government decisions are made by the Prime Minister, who also sets the government's policies.

Control of the Council of Ministers, leadership of the Lok Sabha, command of the bureaucratic machine, media access, projection of personalities during elections, projection as a national leader during international summitry, and foreign visits are all sources of power for the Prime Minister.

At the State level:

There is a similar parliamentary executive, though with some differences. The most significant difference is that the President appoints a Governor of the State (on the advice of the central government). The Governor has more discretionary powers than the Chief Minister, who, like the Prime Minister, is the leader of the majority party in the Assembly.

The main principles of the parliamentary system, however, also apply at the state level.

What is a Permanent Executive?

The Prime Minister, ministers, and a large organisation known as the bureaucracy or administrative machinery make up the government's executive organ.

In a democracy, the government is led by elected representatives and ministers, and the administration is under their control and supervision. The legislature also has authority over the executive branch.

Administrative officers are not allowed to act in contravention of the legislature's policies. Ministers are responsible for maintaining political control over the administration.

India has developed a professional administrative infrastructure.

The Indian bureaucracy is made up of All-India services, State services, local government employees, and technical and managerial staff who run public sector enterprises.

The Union Public Service Commission has been entrusted with the task of conducting the recruitment process for the Indian government's civil servants.

State-level public service commissions are also available. Members of the Public Service Commissions serve for a set period of time. Their removal or suspension is subject to a thorough investigation by a Supreme Court judge.

The bureaucracy is a vehicle through which the government's welfare policies must reach the people.

The demands and expectations of the average citizen are ignored by bureaucracy.

How Expectations of ordinary citizens can be sensitized?

Some of these problems can only be solved if the democratically elected government keeps control of the bureaucracy. On the other hand, too much political interference turns the bureaucracy into a tool in the hands of politicians.

Despite the fact that the Constitution established an independent recruitment system, many people believe there is no safeguard in place to protect civil servants from political interference in their work.

It's also thought that there aren't enough safeguards in place to ensure that the bureaucracy is accountable to the people. The Right to Information Act, for example, is intended to make the bureaucracy more responsive and accountable.

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