A veto is the power to stop an official action unilaterally, such as enactment of legislation. Let us see the veto power of President in respect of Indian politics.
When the Parliament passes a bill, it is sent to the President for his assent. Only then the bill becomes a law. Upon presenting a bill to the President for his assent, he has the following options:
- He may give his assent.
- He may not give his assent (veto).
- He may return the bill (except money bill) to the Parliament for reconsideration. In such case, if the Parliament passes the bill, with or without amendments, and again presents it to the President for his assent; he must give his assent to the bill.
The president has veto power over the bill in the sense that he can withhold his assent to the bill. The objective of veto is to prevent an unconstitutional legislation and to prevent rushed and injudicious legislation.
The Presidents of other countries enjoy 4 types of veto rights – absolute veto, qualified veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto. But President of India has only 3 veto rights – absolute veto, suspensive veto and pocket veto.
Absolute veto: It refers to the withholding of President’s assent to a bill (passed by the Parliament). Then the bill does not become an act. This power is exercised in 2 situations:
- Bills which are introduced by any Parliament member who is not a minister. These are called private members’ bills.
- Once the government bills are passed, the cabinet resigns and the new cabinet advises the president not to give his assent.
Suspensive veto: When a bill, not assented by the President is returned to the Parliament for reconsideration, and the bill is again passed by the Parliamentary by the same majority (with or without amendments), it becomes mandatory for the President to assent the bill. This is called suspensive veto. This is not applicable in case of money bills. The President has to assent a money bill as passed by the Parliament with his prior permission.
Pocket veto: The President neither assents nor rejects the bill. He does not return the bill to the Parliament. Instead, he holds the bill for an indefinite period of time. As far as the constitution is concerned, it does not mandate any time limit within which the President must decide on a bill submitted to him for his assent. But in USA, the President needs to return the bill for reconsideration within 10 days.
Anyhow, there is no power of veto for the President in relation to constitutional amendments.
President can also apply veto in case of state legislation. A bill passed by state legislatures can become an act only if it is assented by the Governor or the President.
When a bill which has been passed by the state legislature is presented before the Governor, he may:
- Give his assent to the bill
- Withhold his assent
- Return the bill (except money bill) for reconsideration.
- Reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.
If a bill has been reserved for assent by the Governor, the President has the following options:
- He may assent the bill
- He may withhold the bill
- He may instruct the Governor to return the bill to the state legislature for reconsideration. If the bill is again passed by the state legislature, with or without amendment, and is presented to the President for his assent, he is not bound to give his assent to the bill.
Also, the President can exercise pocket veto in case of state legislation.