The President of India is the constitutional head of state of the Republic of India. The President is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of India and is also the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
Although Article 53 of the Constitution of India states that the President can exercise his or her powers directly or by subordinate authority, with few exceptions, all of the executive authority vested in the President are, in practice, exercised by the Council of Ministers (CoM).
Part V of the Constitution (The Union) under Chapter I (The Executive) lists out the qualification, election and impeachment of the President of India.
The President of India: Election, Powers & Duties
Article 52: There shall be a President of India. The president is the first citizen of India.
Article 53: This mentions the executive powers of the Union.
The executive power shall be exercised by the President either directly or through officers subordinate to him
Election Of The President
Article 54: The President is elected by an electoral college.
The President is elected by the elected members of:
- Lok sabha
- Rajya Sabha
- State Assemblies
- State Assemblies of Delhi and Pondicherry. (Since 1992 through the 70th amendment).
Article 55: This Article mentions about the manner of the election of the President.
- The President is elected indirectly.
- The election shall be by a secret ballot.
- The election shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
Note: The nominated members and all the members of Legislative Councils (In case of Bicameral Legislatures) are not permitted to vote in the election of the President of India.
Qualification, Oath, Term and Conditions for President
Article 56: This article mentions about the term of the President.
- The term of office is 5 years from the date on which the President enters upon his office.
- The President can resign to his office by writing under his hand addressed to the Vice President of India.
- the President may be removed from office for violation of the Constitution, by impeachment in the manner provided in article 61.
- President is also eligible for re-election to that office.
- He may be elected for any number of terms. In USA, a person cannot be elected as President more than twice.
Article 57: Eligibility for re-election of President
A person is eligible for re-election to the office of the President any number of terms.
Qualifications for Election as President
Article 58: This articles elaborate the qualifications for election as President
Qualification of a person to contest for the President:
- Citizen of India
- Should have completed 35 years of age
- Should not hold any office of profit
- Should be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
Explanation: For the purposes of this article, a person shall not be deemed to hold any office of profit by reason only that he is the President or Vice-President of the Union or the Governor of any State or is a Minister either for the Union or for any State.
Article 71: The disputes related to the election of the President of India are challenged only in Supreme Court, and the decision of the Supreme Court is final. This article also includes the disputes related to the election to the office of the Vice-President also.
- Security Deposit: 15000/- (Fifteen thousand Rupees). Security deposit will not be refunded if the candidate fails to get the 1/6th of the votes polled.
- Nomination: A candidate for election to the office of the President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders.
Article 59: Conditions of President’s office
- The President shall not be a member of any house of Union or the state legislature.
- He shall not hold any office of Profit
- The President shall be entitled to the free use of his official residence and such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by the Parliament by law.
- The president is entitled to Free travel, Secretarial staff and Free Telephone, water, electricity, rent free furnished accommodation. The official residence of the President is called “Rashtrapati Bhavan”. Free residence, Medicare, pension to the President’s spouse if the President dies in office or after retirement.
Article 60: Oath or affirmation by the President
- OATH of Office:Is administered by the Chief justice of India and in his absence, the senior most judge of Supreme Court. The Acting President should also take similar type of oath.
- The President takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law.
- Salary and other allowances are determined by the Parliament from time to time. The salary and other allowances of the President cannot be diminished during the term of office.
Current Salary of President of India: 1,50,000/- (One Lakh and Fifty Thousands) per month.
Pension of President of India: 9,00,000/- (Nine Lakhs) per annum.
The President submits the resignation to the Vice President. The Vice President submits the resignation to the President.
Impeachment and Vacancy
Article 61: The procedure for impeachment of the President.
- The President of India can be removed from by a process of impeachment on the grounds of “Violation of the Constitution”.
- Charges can be initiated by any house of the Parliament.
- All the members of Loksabha and Rajya Sabha (Elected and nominated) take part in the impeachment process of the President. Assembly members are not permitted to take part in the impeachment process of the President of India.
- The charges should be signed by 1/4th of the members of the house.
- 14 days notice is given to the President.
- After it is passed by the 2/3rd majority of the total membership of the house it is sent to the other house. If the other house also passes the same with 2/3rd majority of the total then the President stands impeached.
Article 62: Time of holding election to fill vacancy in the office of President and the term of office or person elected to fill casual vacancy
The Vacancy can occur due to:
- Otherwise. (If the election of the President is declared void by the Supreme Court).
The election for President should be held within 6 months of vacancy. The newly elected President remains in office for a full term of five years.
In the case of a vacancy in the office of the President, the Vice-President acts as the President. In the case of a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the Chief Justice of India acts as the President.
If the office of CJI is also vacant, the seniormost judge of the SC available acts as the President.
Powers and Functions of the President
The President is a part of Parliament. The President can summon the Parliament, Prorogue the Parliament and Dissolves Loksabha. Rajya Sabha is a permanent house it cannot be dissolved.
The President can also summon the Joint session of the Parliament (Article 108). The Speaker presides over the Joint session of the Parliament.
So far Joint Session was conducted for 3 times
- Dowry Prohibition Bill in 1960: As the Lok Sabha did not agree to the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha , a joint session was held on May 6, 1961.
- Banking Service Commission (Repeal) bill 1977: The Rajya Sabha rejected the bill after it is passed in the Lok Sabha. A joint Sitting was held on May 16, 1978.
- Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2002: The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha but, rejected by the Upper House. A joint sitting was held on March 26, 2002.
ARTICLE 86: Address the Parliament at the commencement of the 1st session every year (after January 1st, generally this is the budget session) and also at the commencement of the 1st session after general election (The Lok Sabha Election)
Nominates 12 members to Rajya sabha from the persons with special knowledge or practical experience in Science, Arts, Literature and Social Service.
Nominates 2 members to Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian community. (If in the opinion of the President that the Community is not adequately represented in the Lok Sabha)
Decides the question of disqualification of the members of the parliament in consultation with the Election Commission.
The Budget is introduced in Lok Sabha with the prior permission of the President. A bill which is meant for the creation of a new state or altering the boundaries of the existing states introduced in the parliament with the Prior permission.
President has the right to return the bill for reconsideration. But the second time he must sign the bill. (Applicable for ordinary bills only). A bill becomes an Act after the assent of the president. President cannot return Money bills and constitution amendment bills).
Promulgates ordinances when the Parliament is not in the session. (Article 123). The ordinance must be passed by the Parliament within 6 weeks from its reassembly. The President lays the reports of CAG, UPSC, Finance Commission etc before the Parliament.
Reports laid before Parliament by the President
- Auditor General Report relating to accounts of govt. of India
- Recommendation made by Finance Commission
- Report of UPSC, explaining the reasons where any advice of the commission has not been accepted.
- Report of National Commission for SCs & STs
- Report of special officers for linguistic minorities
Executive or Appointment powers
All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken on the name of the President of India.
- The President appoints
- the Prime Minister. (Article 75 (1)).
- Attorney-General of India.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General.
- The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
- The Chairman and Members of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
- The Chairman and Members of the Joint Public Service Commission (JPSC).
- The Chairman and Members of Finance Commission.
- The Governors of states
- Appoints administrators to Union Territories.
- Appoints Commissions to investigate into conditions of SCs, STs and Other Backward classes.
- Appoints the inter-state council to promote centre-state cooperation.
- All other ministers are also appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. (Article 75 (1)).
- The President allocated the business among the ministers.
The President of India appoints the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The President can seek advice from the Supreme Court (as per Article 143). The advice rendered by the Supreme Court is not binding on the President.
- The money bills are introduced in the Lok Sabha with the prior permission of the President. (All Money bills are introduced in Lok Sabha)
- The annual Financial Statement (Budget) is laid before the Lok Sabha with the prior permission of the President.
- President can make advances out of the Contingency Fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
- The President constitutes the Finance Commission (Article 280) every 5 years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the states.
International treaties are concluded by the President. (Subject to the approval of the Parliament). The President sends and receives diplomats like ambassadors, high Commissioners and so on. President represents India in international forums and affairs
President is the Supreme commander of the armed forces. And is responsible for appointments of the Army Chief, the Navy Admiral and the Air Marshall. President can declare war and peace. (Subject to the approval of Parliament).
Pardoning Powers (Article 72)
President may grant pardons to persons who have been tried and convicted of any offence.
- Punishment or sentence is for an offence against a Union Law
- Punishment or sentence is by a court martial (military court)
- The sentence is a sentence of death
The pardoning power of the President is independent of the Judiciary. It is executive power. President while exercising this power, does not sit as a court of appeal.
The President has 5 types of pardoning powers.
- Pardon: This removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
- Commutation: This is the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form
- Remission: Reducing the period of the sentence without changing its character. From Rigorous imprisonment (5 years) to Rigorous imprisonment (2 years).
- Respite: Awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded because of some special facts. Ex: Pregnant women, disabled persons etc
- Reprieve: This is the stay of execution of a sentence for a temporary period. Purpose of reprieve is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
The power is to be exercised by the President on the advice of the union cabinet.
President is not bound to give reasons for his order. This power of President is not subject to judicial review.
President can afford relief not only from a sentence that he regards as unduly harsh but also from an evident mistake.
Supreme Court cannot give guideline for exercising of power by the President. Judicial review can be done where the presidential decision is arbitrary, irrational, mala fide or discriminatory.
Petitioner cannot file another petition, if one petition for mercy has been rejected by the President.
Through this authority of the President to withhold assent to the bills passed by the Parliament. This is applicable to only ordinary bills. Money Bills and constitutional bills needs to be signed.
President has no veto power in respect of a constitutional amendment bill. The 24th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1971 made it obligatory for the President to give his assent to a constitutional amendment bill
Classifications of Veto Powers:
1. Absolute Veto:
The power of the President to withhold the assent to a bill passed by the Parliament.
This veto is exercised in the following two cases:
- With respect to private members’ bills
- With respect to the govt. bills when the cabinet resigns and the new cabinet advises the President not to give his assent to such bills.
Absolute veto power used
- President Dr. Rajendra Prasad – 1954
- President R Venkataraman – 1991
2. Suspensive Veto:
The President returns the bill for the reconsideration of the Parliament. If the bill is again passed by the Parliament with or without amendments, it is obligatory for the President to give assent to the bill.
So the presidential veto is overridden by a re-passage of the bill by the same ordinary majority. In USA it need a higher majority.
President does not possess this veto in the case of money bills. The President can either give his assent to a money bill or withhold his assent to a money bill but cannot return it for the reconsideration of the Parliament.
Normally, the President gives his assent to money bill as it is introduced in the Parliament with his previous permission.
3. Pocket Veto:
The President neither rejects nor returns the bill, but simply keeps the bill pending for an indefinite period of time.
Constitution does not prescribe any time-limit to President to take decision with respect to a bill.
In USA, President has to return the bill for reconsideration within 10 days. So, the pocket of the Indian President is bigger than that of the American President.
In 1986, President Zail Singh exercised the pocket veto with respect to the Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill.
Presidential Veto over State Legislation
When a bill is passed by the state legislature and sent to the Governor for his consent. Under Article 200 of the constitution the Governor
- May give assent to the bill, or
- Withhold the assent to the bill, or
- May return the bill for the reconsideration by the state legislature, or
- May reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.
- Governor can reserved a state legislature bill 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 for reconsideration of the state legislature.
- It is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature.
- If the case of a money bill, President can’t return the bill.
Ordinance Making Power
Article 123 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President to promulgate (Proclaim, announce) ordinances. This is considered the most important power of the President.
- The ordinance can be proclaimed by the President only during recess (when the Parliament is not in session).
- The ordinance can also be issued when only one house is in session.
- The decision of the President to issue an ordinance can be questioned in a court on the ground that the President prorogued one house or both the houses of the Parliament deliberately with a view to issuing an ordinance on a controversial subject.
- An ordinance issued by the President must be laid before both the houses of Parliament when it reassembles.
- From the date of reassembly, the ordinance is valid for a period of six weeks.
- The President can withdraw an ordinance at any time.
- The ordinance cannot be issued to amend the constitution.
In Cooper case, (1970), the Supreme Court held that the President’s satisfaction can be questioned in a court on the ground of malafide.
D C Wadhwa case (1987) Supreme Court held that the exceptional power of law-making through ordinance cannot be used as a substitute for the legislative power of the state legislature.
The Constitution of India granted 3 types of emergency powers to the President of India.
- National Emergency (Article 352)
- State Emergency or President’s Rule (Article 356)
- Financial Emergency (Article 360)
The chief justice and other judges of the Supreme Court of India and state/union territory high courts. The Comptroller and Auditor General. The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
The President is the head of the Indian State. He is the first citizen of India and acts as the symbol of unity, integrity and solidarity of the nation. Therefore (d) is the correct option.
35 Years. According to Article 58 of the Constitution, no person shall be eligible for election as President unless he is a citizen of India, has completed the age of thirty-five years and is qualified for election as a member of the House of the People.