Relationship between the President and the Prime Minister in India

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The relationship between the President and the Prime Minister in India is constitutionally defined, and the framework limits the extent to which either can dominate the other. The Indian Constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government, which is federal in structure with unitary features. According to the Constitution, the President is the head of state, while the executive powers are vested in the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers.

Constitutional Safeguards

  1. Impeachment: The President can be impeached for violation of the Constitution, providing a safeguard against becoming merely a “rubber stamp” for the Prime Minister.
  2. Independent Role: Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution state that the Council of Ministers is accountable to the Parliament and not the President. However, the President has the right to seek information and consultation from the Prime Minister.
  3. Discretionary Powers: The President has discretionary powers in some areas, such as inviting a party to form the government, returning a bill for reconsideration, or imposing President’s Rule in a state under specific conditions.

Political Realities

However, the extent to which the President exercises their powers can depend on the political climate:

  1. Majority Government: If the Prime Minister commands a solid majority in Parliament, the President’s role is usually ceremonial to a significant extent.
  2. Coalition or Minority Government: In situations where the government does not have a clear majority, the President’s role can be more influential. For example, the President may have more leeway in deciding whom to invite to form the government.

Checks and Balances

It’s also worth noting that the judiciary serves as a check on both the executive and the legislative branches, ensuring neither can overstep constitutional bounds.

Conclusion

So, while there might be scenarios where the President appears to be a “rubber stamp,” especially when the government holds a strong majority, the Constitution has built-in safeguards to maintain a balance of power. Therefore, technically and constitutionally, the Prime Minister cannot “make” the President into a mere rubber stamp; doing so would violate the checks and balances integral to India’s parliamentary system.