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B.A. / B.B.A LL.

B (Integrated Law degree course)

Constitutional law -II (IV Semester)

“Project Work”

“Presidential v. Parliamentary system of Government”

Submission To: Submitted By:

Miss Meenakshi Dahiya Kuldeep Joshi

Faculty of Constitutional law-II Roll no: 17RU11012

Designation: Assistant Professor Semester-IV


We take this opportunity to express our humble gratitude and personal regards to Miss
Meenakshi Dahiya for inspiring me and guiding me during the course of this project work and
also for her cooperation and guidance from time to time during the course of this project work on
the topic “Presidential v. Parliamentary system of Government”

Date of Submission: 02-05-2019

Name of Student: Kuldeep Joshi



History and adoption of the parliamentary form of government

Parliamentary form of government

Presidential form of government

Presidential v. Parliamentary form of government

Advantages of Parliamentary form of government

Loopholes of Parliamentary form of government

Need of Presidential form of government




The Parliamentary system produces a stronger government, for

(a) Members of the Executive and Legislature are overlapping and (b) the heads of the
government control the Legislature

K M Munshi

. India has a parliamentary system of government based largely on that of the United
Kingdom (Westminster system). However, eminent scholars including the first President Dr
Rajendra Prasad have raised the question "how far we are entitled to invoke and incorporate into
our written Constitution by interpretation the conventions of the British Constitution". The
system was adopted in India because of the belief of a stronger and stable government that would
help in the efficient functioning of the country.


The members of the Constituent Assembly were committed to framing a democratic constitution
for India, and there was little doubt that this democracy should be accepted in the institutions of
direct responsible government and not in the indirect system. The assembly had to find the
answer in the context of the past which was India‟s familiarity with cabinet government and in
the needs of the present and the future. The assembly chose a slightly modified version of the
British Cabinet system. K M Munshi in his Draft Constitution provided for a head of state with
powers like those of a British Monarch, for joint responsibility of ministers. He preferred the
British system to American Presidential system, believing it to be a stronger form because of the
overlapping memberships of the government and legislature.

India was formally set upon the path of parliamentary government during the early meetings
of the Union Constitutional Committee. The definitive moment came at a joint meeting with the
Provisional Constitutional Committee set up at the same time as the UCC.

Experience provided the most favourable of parliamentary government. The Constituent

Assembly had sought to establish a parliamentary government for India because it promised
strength, cohesive action and leadership and yet at the same time it feared Executive power. Its
suspicions were very understandable, for although Indians had participated to some degree in the
legislative institutions of parliamentary democracy, they had been subjected to the rule of
autocratic executives. Like colonial Americans, they had learned to have greater faith in
legislatures as protectors of their rights, they had, indeed conceived an ineradicable mistrust of
the Executive branch of the government.

In his Draft Constitution of September 1947, Rau added flesh to the bare bones of the Union
Constitution Committee‟s Executive provisions. Among other things, he laid down that cabinet
was collectively responsible to the House of the People, and this major convention of
parliamentary government became a part of our Constitution.


A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive

branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body,
such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined. In such a system, the head of
government is both de facto chief executive and chief legislator.

If Britain is the best example of parliamentary form of government, presidential system has its
best instance in the American political system.


The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary form of government both at the Centre and
at the State. In this respect the framers of the Constitution have followed the British model in
toto. The parliamentary form of government is its responsibility to the Legislature. The
Government of India is of a democratic form which means it is a government `by the people, for
the people and of the people`. In this parliamentary system of government, parliament is supreme
and there is fusion of Executive and Legislative powers. The President is the constitutional head
of the Executive. All the executive powers are exercised by the Council of Ministers with the
Prime Minister as head. After independence, the whole political scenario changed with the
Congress in Power. The Constitution of India being the supreme law of the land came into force
on 26 January 1950. The preamble of the Constitution defines India to be a sovereign, socialist,
secular, democratic republic. The parliamentary system of India is a replica of the Westminster-
style. The first general election was held under the Constitution during 1951-52.

Parliament occupies a prominent position in the structure of the Government of India. It is the
representative institution of the people. It is through the Parliament, the sovereign will of the
people finds expression. Article 79 of the Constitution of India states that there shall be a
Parliament for the union and the government will be responsible to legislature and the legislature
is in turn responsible to the people who are the ultimate sovereign. The composition of the
parliament consists of the president and the two Houses- the Lok Sabha or the House of the
Parliament and the Rajya Sabha or the Council of States. The continuation of a President or the

Head of the State in the Parliamentary form of government symbolises its true character. The
President though does not participate in the discussions of the two Houses, yet he exercises
several powers and performs important functions. The president of India is elected by an
Electoral College consisting of the elected members of the two Houses of the parliament and the
Legislative Assemblies of the state.

The Rajya Sabha which is another essential part of the parliament consists of not more than 250
members. Of these, 233 members represent states and union territories and 12 members are
nominated by the President. Members to the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of
Legislative Assemblies of the concerned states. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution in
contrast to the Lok Sabha and one third of its members retire every second year. However, in the
Indian Polity, the Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct
election on the basis of universal adult franchise. As present, the Lok Sabha consists of 545
members with two members nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian
Community. The term of the Lok Sabha is for five years and gets dissolved under circumstance
of failure of the leading party to prove clear majority or a no-confidence motion.

Article 74 (1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by
the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in
accordance with such advice. India is a bicameral parliament consisting of the Lok Sabha (House
of the People) and the Rajya Sabha (Council of States). The Council of Ministers is collectively
responsible to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People. The Council of Ministers comprises
Cabinet Ministers, Minister of States and Deputy Ministers. It is the Prime Minister who
communicates all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the
Union and proposals for legislation to the President. Each department has an officer designated
as secretary to the Government of India to advise Ministers on policy matters and general
administration. The Cabinet Secretariat has important coordinating role in making decision at
highest level and operates under direction of Prime Minister.

Government of India has certain departments that carry on their duties under the supervision of
several ministries. The Central Ministry is part of the Executive branch of Government India.
Depending on the federal character of the political system of India, Indian Government
Departments are divided into Central government departments and State Government

department. The central ministry work independently and the State governments work under the
supervision of the Central Government. There are certain departments including Departments of
Agriculture, Home Affairs, Commerce and Industry, External Affairs, Corporate Affairs,
Defence, Information and Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Human Resource Development,
Railways, Environment and Forests, Finance and Company Affairs, Health and Family Welfare,
Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Power, Labour, Tourism,
Women and Child Development, Youth Affairs and Sports and several others constitute the
Indian Government Departments. These departments work for public welfare. The ministers of
these government bodies are chosen through general election India at an interval of every five
years. But the bureaucrats and other officials are appointed through competitive exams that are
held throughout India.


A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists

and presides (hence the name) separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and
which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it.

In the words of Bagehot, “the independence of the legislative and the executive powers is the
specific quality of presidential government just as fusion and combination is the principle of
cabinet government".


The concept of separate spheres of influence of the executive and legislature is specified in
the Constitution of the United States, with the creation of the office of President of the United
States elected separately from Congress. The framers of the U.S. Constitution adopted the
principle first enunciated by the Baron de Montesquieu of separation of powers. They carefully
spelled out the independence of the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and
judicial. At the same time, however, they provided for a system in which some powers should be
shared: Congress may pass laws, but the president can veto them; the president nominates certain
public officials, but Congress must approve the appointments; and law was passed by Congress
as well as executive actions are subject to judicial review. Thus the separation of powers is offset
by what are sometimes called checks and balances. Under the U.S. Constitution, the President
and other executive officers are not permitted to hold seats in the legislature at the same time
they hold offices in the executive branch of the government. The Constitution requires a strict
separation of the personnel of the executive and legislative organs of government. The same
people may not simultaneously hold formal office in and exercise the authority of both branches
of government. If a person occupying an executive or administrative office in the national
government is elected to either chamber of Congress, he must resign the executive or
administrative office before he can take his seat in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.
If an incumbent U.S. Senator or Representative is elected President or Vice President, he cannot
be inaugurated as President or Vice President until he resigns his seat in Congress. A member of
either house of Congress cannot accept a presidential appointment as presidential staff officer,
Cabinet-level department head, or other executive or administrative officer until he resigns his
seat in the Senate or House of Representatives

Formally and legally, the President is not the majority party leader in the legislature. Under the
Constitution, he is leader in neither of the two houses of Congress. On occasion, however, the
President may function informally and unofficially as policy leader of one or both chambers of
Congress in particular areas of national public policy. . The President, possessing a separate
grant of constitutional authority and elected independently Congress to a fixed term which the
latter cannot easily cut short, is not primarily responsible to the legislature. Instead, he is directly
and primarily responsible to the American voters. Since the election of the President and the
election of members of Congress are separate and independent elections, a political party's
victory in the presidential election does not necessarily mean that the party will emerge
victorious in the congressional elections. Conversely, the fact that a party has won a majority of
the seats in one or both houses of Congress does not necessarily mean that it has also won the
Presidency. Therefore, control of the principal organs of the U.S. national government may be
divided between rival parties. The President, his staff officers, members of his Cabinet, and other
high-ranking executive officers may be of one political party, while a majority in one or both
chambers of Congress may be of the opposition party. The top executive authority, the President,
is, in effect, elected by popular vote. Since the President is not chosen by Congress, the executive

is not primarily responsible to the legislature. The chief executive, like the legislature, receives
his mandate to govern from the voters and is thereby directly responsible to them. Moreover, the
President, U.S. Representatives, and U.S. Senators are chosen by and responsible to different
constituencies with varying and competing interests. The consequence is multiple and
fragmented lines of political authority and responsibility.


For the last two decades , a debate has been going on in the country whether the present
parliamentary system should be continued or should be replaced with the presidential system
under which the president elected directly by the people for a fixed term will function as the
nation‟s executive unhampered by the legislature in taking the administrative decisions. He will
also have the distinct advantages of choosing his ministerial team from among the best talent,
available in the country without being subjected to the pulls and pressures of elected
representatives. Those who favour presidential form of government claim that it has the
following advantages.

 The Chief Executive in a presidential system is relatively free from sectional and party
disputes. His term is fixed and thus it ensures stability of the government and the
President can devote his time for the development of the country.
 He is free to choose his team of ministers from the best talent available within the
country. His choice is not restricted to elected representatives as in the case of
parliamentary system.
 It discourages the disease of defections and maintains discipline among the members of a
political party.

On the other hand those who favour the retention of the present parliamentary form of
government claim that it has the following advantages over the presidential form of government.

 It is a responsible government. The government is subject to security in the legislature as

regards its achievements and failures. The ministers are accountable to the legislature.

 The Prime Minister who enjoys two third majority of the Parliament is much more
powerful than the President in the United States.
 There is nothing to prevent the Prime Minister to choose the best talent from outside his
cabinet and get them elected to either House of the Parliament.
 The disease of defection can be removed by appropriate legislation.


1. One of the commonly attributed advantages to parliamentary systems is that it‟s faster
and easier to pass legislation. This is because the executive branch is dependent upon
the direct or indirect support of the legislative branch and often includes members of
the legislature. Thus, this would amount to the executive (as the majority party or
coalition of parties in the legislature) possessing more votes in order to pass
2. In a parliamentary system, with a collegial executive, power is more divided. It can
also be argued that power is more evenly spread out in the power structure of
parliamentarianism. The prime minister seldom tends to have as high importance as a
ruling president, and there tends to be a higher focus on voting for a party and its
political ideas than voting for an actual person. Parliamentarianism has been praised
for producing serious debates, for allowing the change in power without an election,
and for allowing elections at any time.
3. The fusion of the legislative and executive branches in the parliamentary system tends
to lead to more discipline among political party members. Parliamentary system has
proved most successful in countries having developed two-party system
.Parliamentary system of the government has placed more and more emphasis on the
power of Parliament. The main emphasis is on the centre of the power. Parliament
becomes the main focus and the institution Prime Minister has been getting more and
more importance.

4. Parliamentary systems are inherently less accountable than Presidential once, as
responsibility for decision is taken by the collective cabinet rather than a single
5. It is a stable government as the opposition is ready to form the new government in
case the party in power resigns.



At the outset it has to be made clear that the framers of the Constitution preferred the
parliamentary system for two reasons.

1. The system was already in existence in India and the people were well acquainted with it.
2. It provides for accountability of the ministers to the Legislature.

However this hope of the framers has been belied. The happenings during the last two decade
clearly demonstrate that parliamentary form of government has almost failed. Efforts to remove
its drawbacks have not been successful.

Briefly it suffers from the following drawbacks:


The existences of too many political parties have resulted in unstable government .A
number of State Governments has fallen due to the multiplicity of political parties. It is
not possible to have strong opposition in the legislature which affects the decision of the
government in various forms and exercises control over it.

The evil of defection has been threatening the very basis of our parliamentary system
resulting in unstable government. To cure this evil Parliament enacted the 52nd
amendment in 1977 and added the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution which provided that
if a member of a legislative party voluntarily leaves his party or votes against the whip or

nominated member joins another party within six months of election he will lose his
membership of the legislation. But one of the exceptions to the above rule is that if one
third of the members goes out of the party it will be called a split and not defection and the
separated group will be a new entity.


Lack of unity and cohesion in national parties, particularly the Congress party and
behaviour of the members of the different groups within the party have weakened the
authority of the leader of the party who becomes the Prime Minister. It has been seen that
the Prime Minister has to devote much of his time in solving party disputes and little time
is left to him to look after the nation‟s work.

A vast majority of our electorate is illiterate and politically immune and in exercising his
right of franchise is swayed away on the basis of caste, creed, religion, money etc.
National issues are not at all considered by the electorates.


The growth of local and regional parties arousing parochial and provincial feelings has
also weakened the functioning of the parliamentary system. These regional parties are
demanding more autonomy for the States and thus threaten the unity and integrity of the

Criminalisation of politics has also affected the free and fair elections. Almost all parties
have connections with known criminals. These criminal leaders spread violence
in elections on a large scale. They resort to booth capturing, bogus voting etc.

In the light of the experience of the functioning of parliamentary form of government during the
last two decades it may be said that the present parliamentary system has not been working
successfully and it should be replaced with the Presidential Form. An executive head directly

elected by the people for a fixed term will be free from all restraints and will be able to provide
political stability thereby helping the nation towards fast economic development.


India stands out as a shining symbol of democracy amongst the nations that emerged as
independent states after the demise of colonial rule post-World War II. India‟s founding fathers
opted for the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy as practiced in Britain with some
modifications. Probably in their wisdom and taking a long view as was available at that
particular time, India‟s founding fathers perceived that the parliamentary system of government
would be best suited to bridge the vast disparities of India and provide opportunities for a more
integrated India to emerge. They also believed that the generations of political leaders that would
follow them and occupy their hallowed seats in Parliament would be men and women of equal
noble vision and equal noble purpose. the system of checks and balances that were inserted in
the Constitution by the founding fathers in relation to the powers vested in the President and the
Supreme Court we see now these being questioned by those who should be setting exemplary
standards to uphold them. The first blow was struck by Indira Gandhi by bringing in the 42nd
Amendment Constitution to make it obligatory for the President to act on the advice of the Prime

The Parliamentary system of Government today in India stands deeply compromised and eroded
from what was conceived by the founding fathers. They would squirm in their graves to see what
hues the Parliament has acquired and the total compromise and distortion that has taken place of
their Constitutional blueprint.

Financially also the Parliamentary system is a heavy drain on the Indian exchequer in terms of
Jumbo Cabinets and over 800 members of both Houses of Parliament all to be maintained at five
star luxury levels and millions of rupees spent on their perks and privileges. The same gets
applicable at the States level. To this needs to be added the stupendous cost of frequent elections
necessitated by fall of governments due to political defections.

The time has come for India to dispense with the Parliamentary system of Government as it has
failed to prove its effectiveness and has outlived its utility. India must opt now for the
Presidential system of Government in which the President is elected for a period of four years by
a direct vote. He would be both the Head of State and the Head of the Government.

The above pattern should apply at the States level also with the Governor being elected by a
direct vote. Both at the Central level and the States levels the number of lawmakers should be
restricted to a given number in double figures.

Between the American and French systems of Presidential governance the American system is
more preferable for India but with the important proviso that the President be elected by a direct
vote of all citizens and not an electoral college. It would ensure that the person who emerges as
Head of State and Head of Government of India would be the best bet that India has to offer. The
qualifications for the Presidential candidate should incorporate excellence in intellectual
attainments and personal integrity. It should have filters to keep out tainted and criminalized
people. More importantly voting must be made compulsory for all citizens of India. This system
would also facilitate millions of Indian expatriates to take part in determining India‟s future.


Though the parliamentary system of government has many advantages as discussed and it was
incorporated in the Constitution because of familiarity. The happenings during the last two
decade clearly demonstrate that parliamentary form of government has almost failed. Efforts to
remove its drawbacks have not been successful. This calls out for a need of introducing
presidential form of government in India. But it may be possible that the Executive would
assume absolute power and prove to be a threat to the democracy of the country. I believe a
hybrid system which is a combination of Presidential System and Parliamentary Systems would
be more appropriate for India. When France went through a long period of unstable coalition
governments, in 1958 they changed from parliamentary System to so called Semi-Presidential
System of govt.

Within a decade, French political parties, once unwilling to cooperate and form stable coalitions,
began to coalesce into a workable system with coalitions that supported not only prime ministers,
but also presidents. The French hybrid system functions more smoothly when the majority party
in parliament is also the party of the President, but this needs not always be the case. The term
hybrid generally refers to a system with a separately elected President who shares executive
power with the Prime Minister. The President usually has the constitutional power to select the
Prime Minister. Switching over to another form of government would not solve the problem
alone unless the ministers are willing to bring about a change in them for the betterment of the



Granville Austin, „Essays on Constitutional Law’, ( 1st Ed, Oxford University Press, 2006.)

J N Pandey, „ Constitutional Law’, (44th Ed, Central Law Agency,2007.)

D.D.Basu, ‘Constitutional Law on India,(8th Ed, 2008.)

D.D.Basu, „Shorter Constitution of India,‟ (14th Ed, 2009)