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Veto Power of the President of India

In India, the president has three veto powers i.e. absolute, suspension & pocket. The president can send the bill back to parliament for changes, which constitutes a limited veto that can be overridden by a simple majority. But the Bill reconsidered by the parliament becomes a law with or without the assents of President after 14 days.

The president can also take no action indefinitely on a bill, sometimes referred to as a pocket veto. The president can refuse to assent, which constitutes an absolute veto.

The President of India does not have it within his/her power to veto a bill passed by the Government, headed by the Prime Minister.

Pocket Veto 

There is no time frame within which the President must give his assent to a bill, when it is sent to him for the first time. Therefore, by delaying his decision, the President can effectively exercise a Pocket Veto, which will also scupper any further discussion on the bill, since it has not been actually sent back for discussion.

However, this is an extreme case, and is generally not advised to the President. Indeed, it has been done only once in the history of the Republic. The President cannot exercise a pocket veto on a financial or a constitutional amendment bill.

A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver that allows a president or other official with veto power to exercise that power over a bill by taking no action (instead of affirmatively vetoing it).

In this case, the President can send the bill back to the Parliament with recommended amendments, but the Parliament is under no obligation to accept these, and may send the bill back to the President for his approval with or without the suggested amendments.

In case the bill is sent back to the President for a second time, the President is bound to give his assent to the bill within a fixed time period. Again, in this case, the President cannot send a financial or a constitutional amendment bill back to the parliament for re-consideration.

In India, Article 111 of the Indian constitution stipulates that the President shall give assent to a bill passed by both houses of the parliament or return the bill as soon as possible for reconsideration with his recommendation.

The Indian Constitution does not give a specific time limit for presidential action on a bill sent by the Parliament. Thus, by indefinitely postponing action on a bill, the president effectively vetoes it. However, if a president receives a bill he or she had previously vetoed and sent back to Parliament, where such a veto has been overruled by another Parliamentary vote, then such a bill becomes an act within fourteen days of the President’s receiving it regardless of his or her subsequent action or inaction.

Zail Singh, President of India from 1982 until 1987, exercised a pocket veto to prevent the Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill from becoming law. However, the Indian Supreme Court has not upheld the right of presidents to veto bills in this manner.

Absolute Veto

Absolute veto is when the head of the government (Crown/Viceroy/President) refuses assent to any bill passed by the legislature. It cannot become law.

In India there is no conception like absolute veto however a veto can be absolute, as for instance in the United Nations Security Council, whose permanent members can block any resolution. Or it can be limited, as in the legislative process of the United States, where a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate may override a Presidential veto of legislation.

A veto gives power only to stop changes, not to adopt them (except for the rare “amendatory veto”). Thus a veto allows its holder to protect the status quo.

Suspensive veto

Generally, a suspensive veto is the ability of an executive to return a bill to the legislature without the bill becoming law. In the United States, the President can veto a bill the Congress has passed.

The veto is suspensive because the Congress can override the veto, given a large enough majority. The opposite of a suspensive veto is an absolute veto, a power the President does not have. However, if a vetoed bill is not re-passed by Congress, the bill dies, and the suspensive veto, at that point, could be considered absolute.

Veto over State Legislation

If governor reserved a bill for consideration of President then President can use any of above veto power. But in case of suspensive Veto, if the State legislature is again passed bill with simple majority then President is not bound to give assent to bill as in case of Union legislation.

The exception to this is, the President can’t exercise any veto on Constitutional Amendment bill i.e. bound to give assent and in case of money bill, he can’t exercise Suspensive veto either ratified or rejected.

Article 201 of the Constitution says that when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for the consideration of the President, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds asset, provided that, where the Bill is not a Money Bill, the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House or, as the case may be, the Houses of the Legislature of the State together with such a message as it mentioned in the first proviso to Article 200 and, when a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration Procedure in Financial Matters.

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