DMPQ- Comment on the ordinance making power of president of India.

Article 123 of the Constitution empowers the President to promulgate ordinances during the recess of Parliament. These ordinances have the same force and effect as an act of Parliament, but are in the nature of temporary laws. The ordinance-making power is the most important legislative power of the President. It has been vested in him to deal with unforeseen or urgent matters. But, the exercises of this power is subject to the following four limitations:

  • He can promulgate an ordinance only when both the Houses of Parliament are not in session or when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. An ordinance can also be issued when only one House is in session because a law can be passed by both the Houses and not by one House alone. An ordinance made when both the Houses are in session is void. Thus, the power of the President to legislate by ordinance is not a parallel power of legislation.
  • He can make an ordinance only when he is satisfied that the circumstances exist that render it necessary for him to take immediate action. In Cooper case 11 , (1970), the Supreme Court held that the President’s satisfaction can be questioned in a court on the ground of malafide. This means that the decision of the President to issue an ordinance can be questioned in a court on the ground that the President has prorogued one House or both Houses of Parliament deliberately with a view to promulgate an ordinance on a controversial subject, so as to bypass the parliamentary decision and thereby circumventing the authority of the Parliament.

The President can also withdraw an ordinance at any time. However, his power of ordinance-making is not a discretionary power, and he can promulgate or withdraw an ordinance only on the advice of the council of ministers headed by the prime minister. An ordinance like any other legislation, can be retrospective, that is, it may come into force from a back date. It may modify or repeal any act of Parliament or another ordinance. It can alter or amend a tax law also. However, it cannot be issued to amend the Constitution.

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