New Parliament inauguration row: Here’s what Indian constitution says about powers of PM and President

  • The Central government has announced already that Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the new Parliament building

Livemint
Updated23 May 2023
President Droupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi
President Droupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi

India's new Parliament building which is scheduled to get inaugurated on 28 May, has sparked a new political debate. The latest tussle is over 'Who should inaugurate the new 'Sansad'?' The Central government has announced already that Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the new Parliament building. However, the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and other opposition parties have argued that 'constitutionally, the President of India should do the opening' of the new Parliament.

Congress party has been accusing the Centre saying that the President has "not even been invited" to the inauguration event.

Here's what the Constitution of India says:

Power of President

Indian President enjoys certain powers and performs a variety of ceremonial functions. The powers of the President include Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, emergency, and military powers.

With respect to Parliament, which comes under the Legislature, comprises Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament), and Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament).

Article 79 of the Constitution states, "There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and the two Houses--Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of People (Lok Sabha).

On the other hand, Article 74(1) of the Constitution says, "There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President who shall, in the exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice: Provided that the President may require the council of Ministers to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise, and the President shall act in accordance with the advice tendered after such reconsideration".

Clearly, the Indian constitution says that the parliament consists of the president of India and the two Houses of the apex legislature, the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Further Article 87 says that at the beginning of every Parliamentary session, President shall address both houses and inform the parliament of the causes of its summons.

What BJP leaders are saying?

All the BJP leaders have remained tightlipped on this issue so far. They have not said anything in favour or against of President or the Prime Minister.

What are Opposition leaders saying?

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the president should inaugurate the new Parliament building and not the prime minister.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "It is not constitutionally correct to take a major decision about the Parliament excluding the head of the Parliament, the President of India from the decision-making from the foundation stone laying, now for the inauguration".

"First, the permanent house the Rajya Sabha, the Council of States, and then the House of the People, the Lok Sabha. Why the Council of States? Because India is a union of states. And the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is the number 2 in the warrant of precedence, the honourable Vice President of India," the Congress leader added.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party chief also questioned why PM Modi is inaugurating new Parliament. "Why should PM inaugurate Parliament? He is the head of the executive, not the legislature. We have a separation of powers, and Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha chairman could have inaugurated it...".

Shiv Sena UBT Priyanka Chaturvedi also has a similar tone. "The Hon. President is the Head of the Legislature, which is above the head of the Government ie the PM of India. The new parliament inauguration should be done by the President as the protocol demands. The BJP blinded by power has become a fountainhead of constitutional immorality," she said.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge added a caste angle to this debate and said, "It looks like the Modi Govt has ensured the election of President of India from the Dalit and the Tribal communities only for electoral reasons.

While Former President, Shri Kovind was not invited to the New Parliament foundation laying ceremony… The President of India Smt. Droupadi Murmu is not being invited to the inauguration of the new Parliament Building. She alone represents the government, opposition, and every citizen alike.

She is the First Citizen of India.

Inauguration of the new Parliament building by her will symbolise Government’s commitment to Democratic values and Constitutional propriety," Kharge wrote on Twitter.

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