In simple words, the meaning of the word veto is the right to reject a proposal or decision. Apart from the permanent members of the UN, the President of India also has veto power. When implemented for an ethical and future aspect, veto power is a powerful tool exercised within a governing body. If an issue is vetoed, that doesn’t mean it has no importance, but it is symbolic support to an issue raised. Similarly, veto power can also be misused.
Veto Power in the UN
After the second world war, 51 countries united to form an organisation known as the UN or United Nations. It was founded mainly to maintain security and peace and develop friendly relations between nations. The UN council currently has fifteen members, out of which five members are permanent and known as P5, while ten countries are non-permanent members elected for two years. The P5 members of the UN are China, Russia, France, The United States and The United Kingdom. The non-permanent members are India, Kenya, Mexico, Tunisia, Vietnam, Norway, Niger, Saint Vincent, Estonia and Grenadines.
According to the UN council, all decisions have to be made according to UN permanent members. However, any permanent members can block the issued resolution by using their veto power to defend the foreign policy of their national interest. To date, 293 vetoes have been cast in the UN council, with almost half of the total cast alone by Russia or the Soviet Union, i.e., 143. The United Kingdom has used its veto power about 32 times, and the United States has used 83 vetoes. The first veto was cast on 16 February 1946. The veto power cannot be applied during the emergency session of the general assembly.
The Veto Power of the President
Just like the P5 members of the UN, the President also has veto power. In our country, the Indian President has three veto powers. When a bill or resolution is passed in an assembly, it becomes an act, but the President must approve it. The President has three options concerning the bill, either the President can return the bill, reject the bill or simply withhold the bill. The choice of the President to choose his power over a bill is called his veto power. The President’s veto power is of three types: absolute veto, pocket veto, and suspensive veto. The President can choose to use any veto power if they disagree with the sentiment of the bill.
The first-ever President to use veto power in India was Zail Singh. Zail Singh was the President of India from 1982 to 1987. He exercised pocket veto and prevented the Indian Post Office bill of amendment from becoming law. The President’s veto power relies upon the ideology and well-being of their citizens. Like ordinary bills, the President can use all three veto powers, but in the case of constitutional amendment bills and money or finance bills, the President cannot always use all three vetoes.
Types of Veto Powers of the President
The President of India has three veto powers: absolute veto, pocket veto, and suspensive veto.
The absolute veto is where the bill is directly rejected and never becomes an act or law. The President can use the absolute veto in two cases:
- When the bill passed by the parliament is a private member bill;
- If the cabinet resigns before the President can approve the bill (the new cabinet may encourage the President to consent or dissent from the bill passed by the old cabinet)
In 1954, the absolute veto power was exercised by Dr Rajendra Prasad.
The second veto power is the suspensive veto. It gives the President the power to return the bill to reconsider some valid points. The suspensive veto can be overridden by rephrasing problematic or controversial passages. For the state bills, the state legislature cannot override the suspensive veto of the President. When the parliament resends the bill to the President, it only requires an ordinary majority and not a higher majority. Moreover, the President cannot use a suspensive veto for money bills.
The pocket veto is when the President decides to keep the bill pending for an indefinite period. They neither reject the bill nor resend it back to the parliament for reconsideration. The Indian President is not time-bound, while the American President has ten days.
When used internationally or nationally, the veto is a powerful tool that addresses many important issues. The global veto power usually deals with foreign relations, trade interests and security, while the national veto power usually. If an issue is vetoed, that doesn’t mean it has no importance, but it is symbolic support to an issue raised. The issue vetoed may be for various reasons, but the matter’s importance is acknowledged by a council body of elected members, with their votes being cast against and for it.