President of India: Eligibility, Election , Powers and Impeachment
Eligibility of a President :
Article 58 of the Constitution sets the principle qualifications one must meet to be eligible to the office of the President.
The candidate must :
- be a citizen of India .
- have completed the age of thirty-five (35) years.
- be qualified to become a member of the Lok Sabha.
- not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments.
Condition as per Article 59
- The President should not be a member of any house of Union or State legislature.
Election of the President
The President of India is elected by an electoral college consisting of:
elected members of the two Houses of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of the States – Article 54
It includes the national capital territory of Delhi and the Union territory of Pondicherry
The President’s election is held in accordance with a system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote
there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of the different states at the election of the President – Article 55
Presidents’ Term of Office
The oath of office to the President is administered by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, by the senior most judge of the Supreme Court available.
An election should be held to fill the vacancy of Presidential post before the expiration of President’s term – Article 62(1)
The President holds office for a five year term from the date on which he enters the office.
President can resign at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the Vice-President of India.
When a vacancy occurs in the Presidents office due to his death, resignation or removal or otherwise, the Vice-president acts as the President until a new President is elected.
An election to fill such vacancy should be held within six months from the date of occurrence of such vacancy.
A person is eligible for re-election to Presidential office.
President may be impeached from his office for violation of the Constitution – Article 61
The impeachment charges may be initiated by either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha and it should be signed by at least 1/4th members.
Regarding the charges a 14 days’ notice should be given.
The resolution of the charges for impeachment of the President should be passed by at least 2/3rd majority
Afterwards the charges are investigated in the other House of the Parliament. If the resolution is passed in this House also with a of 2/3rd majority, then the President stands removed from his office from the date on which the bill is so passed.
The Powers and Functions of the President
Executive Powers – Article 53
All executive powers of the Union are vested in him. These powers are exercised by him either directly or through subordinate officers in accordance with the Constitution. The Supreme Command of the Defence Force is vested on the President and the exercises it in accordance with law.
Executive powers of the President must be exercised in accordance with the Constitution. In particular it includes the provisions of article 14 (equality before law)
President appoints the Prime Minister and other ministers; and they hold office during his pleasure.
He appoints the Attorney General of India, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners, the Chairman and Members of the UPSC, the Governors of the states, the Chairman and the members of the Finance Commissions etc.
The President can appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of SCs, STs and OBCs.
The President also receives the credentials of Ambassadors and High Commissioners from other countries.
The President is the Commander in Chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
The President of India can grant a pardon to or reduce the sentence of a convicted person for one time, particularly in cases involving punishment of death.
The Legislative Powers
The President can summon or end a session of the Parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha.
He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after the general election and the first session of each year.
He can also summon a joint sitting of both the houses of Parliament which is presided over by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
The President can appoint a member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings the positions of Speaker as well as Deputy Speaker are vacant.
He also can appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceeding when both the Chairman’s and Deputy Chairman’s office fall vacant.
He can nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha with extraordinary accomplishments in literature, science, art and social service and two members to the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community.
President’s prior recommendation or permission is needed for introducing bills in the parliament involving expenditure from Consolidated Fund of India, alternation of boundaries of states or creation of a new state
When a bill is sent to the Parliament after it has been passed by the parliament, the President can give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the bill or return the bill (if it is not a Money Bill or a Constitutional Amendment Bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.
When a bill is passed by a State legislature is re-served by the Governor for consideration of the President, the President can give his assent to the bill, or withhold his assent to the bill or direct the Governor to return the bill (if it is not a Money bill) for reconsideration of the State Legislature.
President can promulgate ordinances when both the Houses of the Parliament are not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the Parliament within the six weeks of its reassembly. The ordinance can be effective for a maxi-mum period of six months and six weeks – Article 123
Emergency Powers of the President
President may proclaim a state of emergency in the whole or part of India if he realises/feels that a grave situation has arisen in which the security of India on part of its territory might get threatened by war or external egression or rebellion. – Article 352
The President can declare three types of emergencies:
National emergency is caused by war, external aggression or armed rebellion in the whole of India or a part of its territory.
President can declare national emergency only on a written request by the Cabinet Ministers headed by the Prime Minister and the proclamation must be approved by the Parliament within one month.
National emergency can be imposed for six months. It can be extended by six months by repeated parliamentary approval, up to a maximum of three years.
Under national emergency, Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens can be suspended.
The six freedoms under Right to Freedom are automatically suspended.
The Right to Life and Personal Liberty cannot be suspended.
Such an emergency has been invoked at three instances:
1962 (Indo-China war)
1971 (Indo-Pakistan war)
1975 to 1977 (declared by Indira Gandhi on account of “internal disturbance”).
State Emergency or President’s Rule
A State Emergency can be imposed via the following:
If that state failed to run constitutionally i.e. constitutional machinery has failed – Article 356
If that state is not working according to the given direction of the Union Government – Article 365
Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament within a period of two months.
It can be imposed from six months to a maximum period of three years with repeated parliamentary approval every six months.
If needed, the emergency can be extended for more than three years, by a constitutional amendment, for example in the case of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
During such an emergency, the Governor administers the state in the name of the President. The Legislative Assembly can be dissolved or may remain in suspended animation. The Parliament makes laws on the 66 subjects of the state list. All money bills have to be referred to the Parliament for approval.
Financial Emergency: Article – 360
President can proclaim a Financial Emergency if financial stability or credit of India or any part thereof is threatened.
This proclamation must be approved by the Parliament within two months.
This type of Emergency has not been declared so far.
A money bill can be introduced in the Parliament only with the President’s recommendation
The President lays the Annual Financial Statement i.e. the Union budget before the Parliament.
President can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of India to meet unforeseen expenses
The President continues a Finance commission after every five years to recommend the distribution of the taxes between the centre and the States.
International treaties and agreements are signed on behalf of the President. However, they are subject to approval of the parliament.
The president represents India in International forms and affairs and may send and receives diplomats like ambassadors, high commissioners
The President is the supreme commander of the defence forces of India
The President can declare war and conclude peace, subject to Parliaments’ approval.
The President appoints the chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force.
The president appoints the Chief Justice of the Union Judiciary and other judges on the advice of the Chief Justice.
The President dismisses the judges if and only if the two Houses of the Parliament pass resolutions to that effect by two-thirds majority of the members present.
The president has the right to grant pardon.
The president enjoys the judicial immunity
No criminal proceedings can be initiated against the president during the term in office
The president is not answerable for the exercise of his/her duties.