Polity Notes: The President

Polity Notes: The President

Article 52 – There shall be a President of India.

Article 53 – The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President.

Thus the President is:

(1)      Executive head of the Republic.

(2) All the executive actions are taken in his name. The executive power vested in the President is to be exercised on the aid & advice of the Council of Ministers [Article 74(1)]. It is obligatory on the part of President to accept the advice of the council of ministers as per the 42ndand 44th Constitutional Amendment Acts.

(3)      He is the first citizen of India & occupies the first position under the warrant of precedence. Warrant of Precedence indicates the hierarchy of positions occupied by various dignitaries attending a state function.

(4)      He is the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces.

Election of the President

The President of India is elected by indirect election. He is elected by an electoral college in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote & the vote being secret.

 Article 54

The Electoral College consists of:                       

(a)      The elected members of both houses of Parliament (nominated members are not the members of electoral college)

(b)      The elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States (including National Capital Territory of Delhi & the Union Territory of Pondicherry)

 Manner of Election of the President

The provisions dealing with the manner of election of the President of India are provided in Article 55. He is elected following the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. 

  • Article 62 of the Constitution provides that an election to fill a vacancy shall be held as soon as possible after, & in no case later than six months from, the date of occurrence of the vacancy (if such occurrence of vacancy is caused by resignation or death or impeachment or otherwise).

 Qualification for election as President

(a)      He must be a citizen of India.

(b)      He must have completed the age of 35 years.

(c)      He must be qualified for election as a Member of the House of the People.

(d)      He must not hold any office of Profit under the Govt. of India or the Govt. of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Govt. However, following persons are not deemed to be holding any office of profit & hence they cannot be disqualified for election as the President: A sitting President or Vice-President of India/Governor of any state/A minister of the Union or of any State.

 Eligibility for re-election

A person, who holds or who has held office as President shall be eligible for re-election to that office.

 Impeachment of the President [Article 61]

(1) The President can be removed from his office before the expiry of his term by the process of impeachment.

(2) The President can be impeached only for the violation of the Constitution.

(3)      It is a quasi-judicial procedure.

(4)      The impeachment procedure can be initiated in either House of the Parliament.  The resolution must be signed by at least 1/4th of the total membership of the House. Before the resolution could be passed, a 14-day notice must be given to the President.  Such a Resolution must be passed by a majority of not less than 2/3rd of the total membership of the House.

(5) Then, the other House of Parliament called the “Investigating House” investigates the charges by itself or cause the charge to be investigated.

(6)      The President has the right to appear & to be represented at such investigation to defend him.

(7)      If, as a result of the investigation the other House also passes a resolution supported by not less than 2/3rd of the total membership of House, the President stands removed from his office from the date on which the investigating House passed the resolution.

Note:

(a) The elected members of the legislative assemblies of States have no role in the impeachment proceedings, while they elect the President.

(b) The nominated members of the Parliament have the right to deliberate & vote when the resolution of impeachment is under consideration while they have no vote in the election of the President.

 Vacancy filled up with Acting President

(1) In case the office of the President falls vacant due to death, resignation or impeachment the Vice-President or in his absent. Chief Justice of Supreme Court or on his absence, senior most Judge of the Supreme Court becomes President till the fresh election for the Post & new incumbent assumes office.

(2) If the President is not able to discharge his duties due to sickness or absence due to any other reasons, the Vice-President discharges the functions of the President & is entitled to the same salary, allowances & privileges which are available to the President under the constitution.

 Legislative powers of President

The legislative Powers of President are as follows:

  1. The President summons both the Houses of the Parliament & prorogues them. He or she can dissolve the Lok Sabha according to the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the PM.
  2. President inaugurates the Parliament by addressing it after the general elections & also at the beginning of the first session each year.
  3. All bills passed by the Parliament can become laws only after receiving the assent of the President. The President can return a bill to the Parliament, if it is not a money bill or a constitutional amendment bill, for reconsideration. When after reconsideration, the bill is passed & presented to the President, with or without amendments; President is obliged to assent to it.
  4. The President can also withhold his assent to the bill thereby exercising pocket veto.
  5. When both Houses of the Parliament are not in session & if Govt. feels the need for immediate action, President can promulgate ordinances which have the same force & effect as laws passed by Parliament.

 Executive powers of President

The executive powers of President are as follows:

  1. The President appoints the PM, the President then appoints the other members of the Council of Ministers, distributing portfolios to them on the advice of the PM.

The President is responsible for making a wide variety of appointments. These include:

Governors of States/The Chief Justice, other judges of the Supreme Court & High Courts of India/The Attorney General/The Comptroller & Auditor General/The Chief Election Commissioner & other Election Commissioners/ The Chairman & other Members of the Union Public Service Commission/ Ambassadors & High Commissioners to other countries.

  1. The President is the Commander in Chief of the Indian Armed Forces.

Financial powers

  1. All money bills originate in Parliament, but only if the President recommends it.
  2. He or she causes the Annual Budget & supplementary Budget before Parliament.
  3. The President appoints a finance commission every five years.

 Judicial powers

  1. The president appoints the Chief Justice of the Union Judiciary & other judges on the advice of the Chief Justice.
  2. The President dismisses the judges if & only if the two

Houses of the Parliament pass resolutions to that effect by two-thirds majority of the members present.

  1. He/she has the right to grant pardon. The President can suspend, remit or commute the death sentence of any person.

Pardon – completely absolves the offender

Reprieve – temporary suspension of the sentence

Commutation – substitution of one form a punishment for another form which is of a lighter character

Respite – awarding a lesser sentence on special ground

Remission – reducing the amount of sentence without changing its character

 Diplomatic powers

All international treaties & agreements are negotiated & concluded on behalf of the President. However, in practice, such negotiations are usually carried out by the PM along with his Cabinet (especially the Foreign Minister).

 Military powers

The President is the supreme commander of the defense forces of India. The President can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of parliament. All important treaties & contracts are made in president’s name.

Emergency powers

The President can declare three types of emergencies: national, state & financial. Under Article 352, 356 & 360.

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