PRESIDENT OF INDIA
The Union Executive broadly covers the President, Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister. Under the Indian Constitution, the President of India enjoys a unique position. President is the head of the Union Executive. Article 52 creates the position of the President. The President of India is the head of state of the Republic of India. He is considered to be above party politics and is not a member of any political party.
The President is the first citizen of the country and formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of India. He is also the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. He represents sovereignty of the country. He is elected by the elected representatives of the people.
POSITION OF THE PRESIDENT UNDER INDIAN CONSTITUTION
Article 52 provides that there shall be a President of India and Article 53 provides that the executive powers of the Union shall be vested in the President of India and shall be exercised either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. Thus President of India is bound to act in accordance with the Constitution.
Also, Article 74 of the Constitution provides that there shall be Council of Ministers with the
Prime Minister at the head to aid and advice the President of India. Thus, a question arises what does aid and advise mean? Can President of India refuse or disallow or disregard the advice tendered or given by the Council of Ministers to the President? As Article 75 (3) provides, the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People. In Parliamentary form of Government, Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. Similarly, if President does not act in accordance with the Constitution then there is provision for his impeachment. Under Article 368, a provision has been made that if any Amendment Act has been passed in order to amend the Constitution, the President shall have to sign it. It is very clear from all the above provisions that President cannot go against the wishes of the Council of Ministers as headed by the Prime Minister. He is said to be a puppet in the hands of Prime Minister.
DUTIES OF THE PRESIDENT
The primary duty of the President is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law of India as made part of his oath (Article 60). He is liable for impeachment for violation of the Constitution (Article 61).
The Constitution of India envisages a parliamentary Government in India. Part V of the Constitution of India deals with the office of the President of India. Although Article 53 of the Constitution says that the executive power of union shall be exercised by the President either directly or through officers sub-ordinate to him.
In practice the President has to abide by the decisions of the council of ministers with the Prime Ministers at the head. Our Constitution is a harmonious blend of the political systems of the U.S.A. and the U.K. The President merely represents the nation, he does not rule.
QUALIFICATIONS TO BE ELECTED A PRESIDENT
- Should be a citizen of India;
- Should be of not less than 35 years of age;
- Should be qualified for elections as a member of the House of people; and
- Should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or any state Government or any local authority subject to the control of any of these Government;
- Must not be a member of the parliament.
ELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT
The founding fathers of the Constitution did not provide for the popular election of the President. Article 54 of the Indian Constitution provides for the election of the President of India. The President of India is elected by indirect election that is by an electoral college through secret ballot, in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
As far as practicable, there shall be uniformity of representation of the different states at the election, according to the population and the total number of elected members of the Legislative Assembly of each state, and party shall also be maintained between the State as a whole and the Union (Article 55).
Electoral College which elects President consists of-
- Elected members of both the Houses of Parliament (does not include nominated members)
- Electoral college which elects the President consists of elected MP’s and elected MLA’s at the state level
- MLA’s of National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union territory of Pondicherry are also included
SINGLE TRANSFERABLE VOTE
The election of the President is held through single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Under this system names of all the candidates are listed on the ballot paper and the elector gives them numbers according to his/her preference. Every voter may mark on the ballot paper as many preferences as there are candidates. Thus the elector shall place the figure 1 opposite the name of the candidate whom he/she chooses for first preference and may mark as many preferences as he/she wishes by putting the figures 2, 3, 4 and so on against the names of other candidates. The ballot becomes invalid if first preference is marked against more than one candidate or if the first preference is not marked at all.
As far as practicable, there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States at the election of the President. For the purpose of securing such uniformity among the States ‘inter se’ as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, the number of votes which each elected member of Parliament and of the Legislative Assembly of each State is entitled to cast at such election shall be determined in the following manner-
- Every elected member of the Legislative Assembly of a State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of the elected members of the Assembly;
- if, after taking the said multiple of one thousand; the remainder is not less than five hundred than the vote of each member referred to in sub-clause (a) shall be further increased by one;
- Each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub-clause (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one and other fractions disregarded.
The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by the secret ballot. In this Article, the expression “population” means the population as ascertained at the preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published. [Article 55] Conditions of President’s office – Article 59 of the Constitution lays down the conditions-
- The President cannot be a member of either of House of Parliament or State Legislature when holding the office of President.
- The President cannot hold any other office of profit.
- Parliament by law will determine the salary of President.
Term of office: The President’s term of office is for five years from the date on which he enters upon his office; but he is eligible for re-election. The President office may terminate within the term of five years in either of two ways-
- By resignation in writing under his hand addressed to the vice-President of India,
- By removal for violation of the constitution, by the process of impeachment (Art. 56).
VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT
A vacancy in the office of the President may be caused in way of the following ways-
- On the expiry of his term of five years,
- By his death,
- By his resignation. The President may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Vice President, resign from his office,
- On his removal by impeachment,
The President may, for violation of the Constitution, be removed from the office by impeachment in the manner provided in Art. 61
- Otherwise, e.g., on the setting aside of his election as President.
TIME FOR HOLDING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
- An election to fill a vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of President shall be completed before the expiration of the current term.
- An election to fill a vacancy in the office of President occurring by the reasons of death, resignation or removal, or otherwise, should be held within 6 months from the date of occurrence of vacancy.
PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES
- The President cannot be asked to be present in any court of law during his tenure.
- A prior notice of two months’ time is to be served before instituting a civil case against him.
- The President can neither be arrested nor any criminal proceedings be instituted against him in any court of law during his tenure.
- The President is not answerable to any court of law for the exercise of his functions.
REMOVAL OF PRESIDENT (IMPEACHMENT PROCESS)
The President can only be removed from office through a process called impeachment. The Constitution lays down a detailed procedure for the impeachment of the President. An impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure in parliament. Either House may prefer the charge of violation of the Constitution before the other House which shall then either investigate the charge itself or cause the charge to be investigated.
PROCEDURE FOR IMPEACHMENT
The resolution to impeach the President can be moved in either House of Parliament. Such a resolution can be moved only after a notice has been given by at least one-fourth of the total number of members of the House. Such a resolution charging the President for violation of the Constitution must be passed by a majority of not less than two-third of the total membership of that House before it goes to the other House for investigation.
The charges levelled against the President are investigated by the second House. President has the right to be heard or defended when the charges against him are being investigated. The President may defend himself in person or through his counsel.
If the charges are accepted by a two-third majority of the total membership of the second House, the impeachment succeeds. The President thus stands removed from the office from the date on which the resolution is passed.
But the charge cannot be preferred by a House unless-
- (a) a resolution containing the proposal is moved after a 14 days notice in writing signed by not less than 1/4 of the total number of members of the House; and
- the resolution is then passed by a majority of not less than 2/3 of the total membership of the House.
The President shall have a right to appear and to be represented at such investigation. If as a result of the investigation, a resolution is passed by not less than 2/3 of the total membership of the House before which the charge has been preferred declaring that the charge has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office with effect from the date on which such resolution is passed (Article 61).
Since the Constitution provides the mode and ground for removing the President, he cannot be removed otherwise than by impeachment, in accordance with the terms of Art 56 and 61.
ALLOWANCES AND EMOLUMENTS
The President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of his official residence and shall be also entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament by law that behalf is so made, such emoluments, allowances and privileges as are specified in the second schedule of the Constitution.
The President receives a salary of Rs. 1,50,000/- per month and an annual pension on the expiration of his term or on resignation provided he is not re-elected to the office. The emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be diminished during his term of office.
POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT
The President of India is the head of a parliamentary state, entrusted with all the executive authorities including the supreme command of the forces. He exercises his power with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
The Prime Minister is the real head of the Government. However, a vast number of powers have been earmarked for the President by the Constitution. Powers of President can be summarized under following categories:-
- Article 53 of the Constitution declares the President to be the chief of the state. Sub-clause (i) states, “The executive powers of the union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through offices sub-ordinate to him in accordance with his constitution. The Constitution vests the supreme executive authority of the Union in the President.
- Under Article 77, all the executive actions of the government are taken under the name of the President.
- He holds the supreme command of India’s defence forces and has the power of declaring war or concluding peace.
- Under Article 78, the President has the right to seek any information from the Centre and the State.
- The President appoints, as Prime Minister, the person most likely to command the support of the majority in the Lok Sabha (usually the leader of the majority party or coalition). The President then appoints the other members of the Council of Ministers, distributing portfolios to them on the advice of the Prime Minister.
- Under Article 310, every officer of the government occupies his/her position during the pleasure of the President.
- It is the President of India by whom Houses of Parliament are summoned and he may convene joint sitting of the two Houses in case of deadlock.
- The President nominates 12 members for the Rajya Sabha with extra-ordinary accomplishments from amongst persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service and two members for the Lok Sabha from the Anglo-Indian Community.
- 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 and High Courts of India
- The Chief Minister of National capital territory of Delhi (Article 239 AA 5 of the constitution)
- The Attorney General
- The Comptroller and Auditor General
- The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners
- The Chairman and other Members of the Union Public Service Commission
- Vice Chancellor of central university and academic staff of central university through his nominee
- Ambassadors and High Commissioners to other countries
- Besides he has the power to appoint an Inter-State Commission, Finance Commission, Election Commission, etc. He has the power to be kept informed of all the officers of the Union. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to communicate to the President all decisions of the council of ministers relating to the administration of Union Affairs.
According to the Constitution, the President is an integral part of the Parliament. He has many
powers in relation to the Parliament-
- The President inaugurates the Parliament by addressing it after the general elections and also at the beginning of the first session each year. Presidential address on these occasions is generally meant to outline the new policies of the government.[Article 87]
- He summons, prorogues the Parliament.
- He can dissolve the House of people.
- He can address either Houses of Parliament or both the Houses jointly (i.e. a joint session of both the houses of the Parliament).
- He can send message to either House of Parliament whether with respect to a Bill
pending in Parliament or otherwise.[Article 86(2)]
- The President decides questions as to disqualification of members.[Art. 103]
- He can cause certain reports and statements to be laid before the Parliament such as the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, or the Report of the Finance Commission.
- He recommends the introduction of certain bills in the Parliament such as the re- organisation of states or alteration of boundaries; a money-bill involving expenditure.
- No bill can become a law unless and until assented to by the President. [Article 114]
All bills passed by the Parliament can become laws only after receiving the assent of the President.
After a bill is presented to him, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds his assent from it. As a third option, he 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 and presented to the President, with or without amendments, the President cannot withhold his assent from it. The President can also withhold his assent to a bill when it is initially presented to him (rather than return it to the Parliament) thereby exercising a pocket veto.
- The President may withhold his assent or return the Bill to the House, for reconsideration, if it is not a money bill.
- Certain types of bills passed by the state Legislature are to be reserved for Presidents’ assent. Certain bills require his prior sanction before they are introduced in the state Legislature.
- The most important legislative power of the President is his power to promulgate Ordinances under Article 123. According to this, the President is empowered to promulgate ordinances, except when both the Houses of Parliament are in session, if he is satisfied that circumstances exit compelling him to take immediate action.
A Presidential Ordinance has the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament. However, every such ordinance should be laid before both Houses of Parliament within six weeks from the re-assembly of Parliament. Failure to comply with this condition, or Parliamentary disapproval within the six weeks’ period, will make the Ordinance invalid. The President may also withdraw the Ordinance at any time he likes
In respect of finance, the President enjoys the following powers:
- No money bill can be introduced in the House of people without the previous sanction of President. All money bills originate in House of the people (Lok Sabha) (Article 109).
- The president shall cause to be laid before Parliament, the Annual Budget and supplementary Budget for its approval (Article 112).
- He causes to be laid before the Parliament the Annual Finance Statement called the Budget before the beginning of every financial year.
- Withdrawal from the Contingency Fund of India is done after the permission of the President. The Contingency Fund of India is at the disposal of the President. He can make advances from the contingency fund of India to meet unforeseen expenses, pending approval by the Parliament.
- The President appoints the Finance Commission from time to time to make recommendation regarding the distribution of taxes between the Union and the states.
- He determines the shares of Income Tax receipts between the Union and the States.
JUDICIAL POWERS (PARDONING POWER)
The President has the power to grant pardons and reprives, and suspend, remit or commute sentences of persons convicted by court martial, and in all cases in which sentences of death have been passed. As mentioned in Article 72 of Indian Constitution, the President is empowered with the powers to grant pardons in the following situations:
- Punishment is for offence against Union Law
- Punishment is by a Military Court
- Sentence is that of death
To pardon means to forgive a person of his offence. It is an act of grace and cannot be claimed or demanded as a matter of right. It is purely an executive act. The decisions involving pardoning and other rights by the President are independent of the opinion of the Prime Minister or the Lok Sabha majority. In most cases, however, the President exercises his executive powers on the advice of the Prime Minister and the cabinet.
The Presidents power does not affect the similar powers of the Governor and military officers with respect to Court-Martial. It is noteworthy that the Presidents’ judicial power does not include the power to grant amnesty. This power is left to the Parliament. Advisory Jurisdiction under Article 143 also comes under judicial powers of the President.
The President enjoys certain privileges in respect to criminal or civil proceedings against him. No criminal proceedings can be started against him during his term of office. Civil proceedings can be initiated only after he has been served with a two months written notice.
The Supreme Command of the Defence Forces is vested in the President of India, but the Constitution expressly lay down that the exercise of this power shall be regulated by law. This means that though the President may have the power to take action as to declaration of war or peace or the employment of the Defence Forces, it is competent for Parliament to regulate or control the exercise of such powers.
Like the head of other States, the President of India represents India in international affairs and has the power to appoint Indian representatives to other countries and receives diplomatic representatives of other states.
In addition to the power enumerated above the President of India enjoys vast emergency powers. Article 352 to 360 deals with the emergency provisions. The Constitution visualizes three kinds of emergencies:-
- Emergency arising out of a threat to the security of India or any part of it by war, external aggression or internal disturbances,
- Emergency arising out of the failure of the constitutional machinery in any one of the states.
- Emergency caused by a threat to the financial stability of India.
It is the President who determines whether the emergency exists or not. His judgement in this case cannot be questioned. If the President issues a declaration of national emergency caused by war or threat of war he may:-
- Suspend the autonomy of states and empower the Parliament to make laws on all matters including matters in the state list.
- Extend the executive power of the union so as to give directions to any state regarding the manner in which the executive power of the union is to be exercised;
- Suspend the fundamental rights including the right to constitutional remedies.
- The President can modify the provisions relating to distribution of revenues between the centre and the states in order to secure adequate revenue for the Government of India to meet situation created by emergency.
The above is the assessment of various powers of the President of India. Looking to these powers one may say that President is no less than a dictator and especially so when an emergency has been declared. However, whatever may be the Constitutional provisions regarding the powers of the President and however vast these powers may be, yet it may be said that the President of India being the head of a parliamentary Government cannot but exercise his powers on the advice of the Council of Ministers which includes the elected representatives of the people.
Article 74 clearly provides that “there shall be a Council of Ministers to aid and advice the President in the exercise of these functions. Article 74 is a mandatory provision.
The Constitution does not visualize the rule of the President at the centre. The powers of the President are the powers of the Council of Ministers which is responsible to the Parliament. The President must act according to their advice because disregard of their advice would kill the essence of the parliamentary Government which requires that the head of the state should exercise his powers on the advice of the cabinet responsible to the parliament.
VICE-PRESIDENT OF INDIA
The Vice-President is elected under Article 63 of the Constitution. His importance in the Constitution is that whenever any vacancy occurs in the office of the President, he acts as President until a new President is elected. The Vice-President like the President is elected indirectly.
The Vice-President is elected by the members of both Houses of Parliament at a joint session by secret ballot in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
The Vice-President of India shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Raba Sabha. His normal function is to preside over meetings of the Rajya Sabha. But since he is not the member of the Rajya Sabha, he has no right to vote.
The qualifications of the Vice President are the same as those of the President except that he
must be eligible for election to the Rajya Sabha.
- (i) He must be a citizen of India.
- (ii) He must have completed the age of 35 years.
- (iii) He must be eligible to be elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- (iv) He must not hold any office of profit under any government.
ELECTION OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT
The Vice-President of India is elected by the members of both Houses of Parliament in
accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote system and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.
TERM OF OFFICE OF VICE-PRESIDENT
The Vice-President is elected for the term five years. The period of five years starts from the
date on which he enters upon his office.
He is eligible for re-election. However, he may resign from his office before the expiry of normal term, even before the completion of his tenure by writing to President or may be removed by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a simple majority of all the then members of the House and agreed to by a simple majority of the Lok Sabha.
FUNCTIONS OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT
The duties of the Vice-President are two-fold:-
- He is the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha and
- He acts for the President when the office of the President is vacant.
Even when the President is ill or otherwise unable to perform his duties, the Vice- President acts for him.
POSITION OF VICE-PRESIDENT
There is no doubt that the office of the Vice-President of India is next to the office of the President of India. But the Vice-President of India does not exercise any important and real powers.
Therefore, the office of the Vice-President of India is not of any great importance.
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