Topic of the Day: Ordinance Making Powers of the Executive in India

This is an important topic for the UPSC exam and one that finds mention in the news on a regular basis. In this article, you will read about the ordinance making powers of the president and the governor for the IAS exam.

The Ordinance will be promulgated only after it receives presidential assent.

I. Separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary

  • In India, the central and state legislatures are responsible for lawmaking, the central and state governments are responsible for the implementation of laws and the judiciary (Supreme Court, High Courts and lower courts) interprets these laws.
  • But, the powers are not watertight compartments, and there is overlap in the functions and powers. For instance, the president possesses some legislative and judicial powers while the legislature can give certain functions to the executive as subordinate legislation.

II. Ordinance making powers of the President

Ordinance Making Power of President

  • When the parliament is not in session and so, it is not possible to enact laws in the parliament, the president can promulgate ordinances. This lawmaking power of the president is granted by the constitution in Article 123.
  • An ordinance can be on any subject that the parliament has the authority to make laws on. It is also limited in its scope insofar as the distribution of powers between the three lists, Union, State and Concurrent lists are concerned.

Thus, the following limitations exist with regard to the Ordinance making power of the executive:

  • Legislature is not in session: The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
  • Immediate action is required: The President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action’.
  • Parliamentary approval during session: Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling or they shall cease to operate. They will also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both the Houses. 

III. Ordinance making powers of the Governor

  • The powers of the governor are also similar to the president’s in respect of making ordinances. The constitution gives these powers through the Article 213. The governor can also issue ordinances only when either of the two legislative assemblies is not in session.
  • However, the Governor cannot issue an Ordinance without instructions from the President in three cases where the assent of the President would have been required to pass a similar Bill.

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