The President of India
The President of the executive head of the Union of India. He/She is the Head of the State but according to our Constitution, he/she is bound to follow the advice given by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. The Constitution makes it necessary on the part of the President to exercise his/her functions in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers.
A person shall be eligible for election as a President, if he/she
- is a citizen of India.
- has completed an an age of 35 years.
- should be qualified for elections as member of the Lok Sabha.
- should not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or Government of any State or any other public authority.
A person’s candidature should be proposed by 50 members of the Electoral College with another 50, to second it. The security deposit for the elections has been raised to Rs.15,000 by an ordinance.
The election of the President is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of ‘Single Transferable Vote’. The voting is done by a secret ballot. All the disputes regarding the election of the President shall be decided by the Supreme Court of India.
Composition of the Electoral College
The President is elected indirectly by the members of an Electoral College consisting of :
- the elected members of the both Houses of the Parliament.
- the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
Thus, the nominated members of both the houses of Parliament, the nominated members of the State Legislative Assemblies, the members of (both elected and nominated) of the state legislative councils, and the nominated members of the Legislative Assemblies of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the election of the President.
Procedure of Election
The President is indirectly elected by the elected members of the Vidhan Sabha, the elected members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, according to proportional representation by means of a ‘Single Transferable Vote’.
- Value of the Vote of an MLA = (Total Population of State)/(Total Number of Elected Members in State Legislative Assembly) x 1/100
- Value of vote of an MP = (Total Number of Votes of all MLAs of all States ) / (Total Number of Elected MPs)
Reasons for Indirect Election
The President is indirectly elected because;
- if elected directly, he could become a rival centre of power to the Council of Ministers.
- an indirect election protects the President to become a nominee of the Ruling Party at the Centre.
- the inclusion of members of State Legislative Assembly in the Electoral College makes the President the elected representative of the whole nation. A clear voice would be given to the States as well, by this process.
Oath of Office
Before entering upon his office, the President takes on oath in the presence of the Chief Justice of India (or in his absence the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court) to:
- discharge the functions of the President of India,
- preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law, and
- devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.
Term of Office
- The President holds the office for a term of 5 years from the date on which he enters the office. The Chief Justice of India administers the oath of office to the President.
- The President may resign before the completion of his/her term. In that case, he can submit his resignation to the Vice-Present of India. The vacant seat of the President must be filled within 6 months.
Procedure for Impeachment
The President can be expelled from the office in case of the violation of the Constitution by the process of impeachment. Either House can initiate the procedure by mentioning the charge for violation of the Constitution. A 14 days notice should be given to the President in writing signed by at least 1/4th of the total members of the House that framed the charges.
After the lapse of 14 days, a resolution is moved which is to be passed by a majority of not less than 2/3rd of the total strength of the House.
The resolution then moves to the other House, which should investigate the charges. During the process, the President has the right to appear and to represent himself in such investigation. If the resolution, after investigation is passed the second House by a majority of not less than 2/3 rd of the total Membership of the House (investigating), the President will stand impeached.
Powers of the President of India
The President has many powers, but the Constitution has clearly stated that the President shall act in accordance with the advice given by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers.
- He/She is the head of Union Administration and all executive orders are issued in his/her name.
- He/She makes appointments to key posts to run the Government’s administration. He/She appoints the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers (CoM) on Prime Minister’s advice. He/She also appoints the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Governors of the States, Lt-Governors and various other constitutional heads.
- He/She can appoint an inter-state council to promote centre state and inter-state cooperation.
- Union Territories and the Border Areas Administration is the responsibility of the President.
He/She can address the Parliament at the beginning of the first session of the year and after each general election to the Lok Sabha.
The President can send message to either House of the Parliament, at any point with regard to any matter of importance.
The President has the power to summon, and prorogue the Houses and to dissolve the Lok Sabha. The President nominates 14 members to the Parliament (12 to the Rajya Sabha and 2 to the Lok Sabha), on the advice of the Prime Minster and the council of Ministers.
Any Bill cannot become an act until it is approved by the President. He/She may send it back with some recommendations, but the second time he/she has to give his/her assent.
A Bill with regard to formation of a new state can only move in the Parliament after the assent of the President.
The Governor of the State may reserve some Bills passed by the State Legislature for the consideration of the President.
The President can promulgate on ordinance under Article 123.
When an ordinary bill is sent to the President after it has been passed by the Parliament, he can:
- give his assent to the bill, or
- withhold his assent to the bill, or
- return the bill. However, if the bill is passed again by the Parliament; with or without amendments, the President has to give his assent to the bill.
The ordinance is subject to conditions like:
- The President must feel the urge to take immediate action in the given circumstances.
- The ordinances can only be promulgated when both Houses of the Parliament are not in session.
- It has to be laid before both the Houses when they reassemble.
- It lapses, if it is replaced by an Act of Parliament.
- It is the responsibility of the President to introduce the Annual Budget every year in the Parliament. Under constitutional provision, it is the duty of the President to appoint a Finance Commission after every 5 years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the Centre and the States.
- He/She is authorized to withdraw money from Contingency Fund in India to meet certain emergency requirement.
- A Money Bill can only be introduced after the President’s recommendation.
- No demand for grant, can be made except on is recommendation.
He/She appoints the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
He/She has the power to grant pardon, respites, reprives or remissoins to remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of an offence.
No criminal suit can be initiated against the President during his/her tenure of office and he/she is not answerable before any Court of Law for exercising his/her powers and the duties of his/her office.
- He/She is the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces of India and appoints the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
- The President can declare War or conclude Peace on the approval of the Parliament.
- He/She appoints as well as receives the ambassadors, high commissioners and diplomats to and from foreign nations.
- The President represents India in International Conferences. All treaties and international agreements are concluded in his/her name. However, they are subject to the approval of the Parliament.
- When no party gains majority of the Lok Sabha, the President using his/her discretionary power, appoints the Prime Minister.
- After the vote of no confidence is passed against the prevailing Government, the President may dissolve the Parliament or ask leader of another party to prove its majority on the floor of the House.
- He/She can also dismiss ministers in case, the Council of Ministers loses the confidence of the House but refuses to resign.
The President can proclaim a state of emergency in the following cases;
National Emergency (Article 352)
- The President, if satisfied that the security of the nation is threatened by war or external aggression or an armed rebellion, he/she can issue the proclamation of National Emergency.
- Every such proclamation must be approved by the Parliament within 1 month by a special majority. Once passed, it remains operational for 6 months. Beyond that it has to be passed again by the Parliament.
- During the proclamation, Fundamental Rights are suspended (Except those under Article 20 and 21). The Constitution assumes unitary role and grants Parliament the power to make laws on 66 subjects of state list. And many of the powers of the state are curtailed.
- Also the country has to lose its federal spirit, as the states, under an emergency, are obliged to carry out the instructions of the center.
- The financial provisions of the Constitution are also suspended.
- The Lok Sabha, under such circumstances, can be extended for a period of one year.
President Rule (Article 356)
- On receipt of a report from the Governor, if the President is satisfied that there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state, he may declare an emergency in the state assuming all or any functions of the state, to himself.
- Once proclaimed, it must be ratified from the Parliament within 2 months after which, it remains operational for 6 months.
To extent it beyond a year, it must fulfill two conditions:
- If the proclamation of National Emergency is in operation in the nation or in any part of the country.
- The Election Commission must certify that holding elections to the Legislative Assembly of the State (concerned) is difficult.
Effects of such state emergencies include:
- State administration is directly placed under the President with the Governor acting in accordance with the instructions issued by the Union Government.
- The President may either dissolve the Vidhan Sabha and dismiss the Council of Ministers or keep them in suspended animation.
- The President may authorise expenditure from the State Consolidated Fund, when the Lok Sabha is not in session. He may also suspend the provision of the Constitution relating to the authority of the state.
Financial Emergency (Article 360)
- If a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of the nation is threatened, the President can declare Financial Emergency.
- The President may appoint a Finance Commission to suggest methods to get out of the financial crisis, he may reduce salaries and allowances of all or any class of persona including those of the Supreme Court or High Court Judges.
- He can also issue instructions to the states in regard to the utilisation of funds in the manner he may deem fit and may order the state to submit Money Bills to him for his/her assent.
Position of the President
- The President is required to exercise his/her powers on the aid and advice of Council of Ministers. The 42nd Amendment Act makes it binding the President to accept such advice.
- The 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978 authorised the President to require the council of ministers to reconsider such advice.
- Without any ratification from the Parliament, the emergency proclamation ceases to operate after a fixed time.
- Though, the President is only a Constitutional Head of the State and has little effective power at his/her disposal, the office of the President is one of the great honour, prestige and dignity.
Vice-President of India
The Vice-President of India is elected by the member of the Electoral College, according to a system of proportional representation by a single transferable vote.
Qualification for Election
A person shall be eligible for the election of the Vice-President, if he/she
- is a citizen of India.
- has completed the age of 35 years.
- is qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- should not hold any office of profit under the Union Government or any State Government or any local or other authority or any public authority.
Composition of the Electoral College
An Electoral College for the election of the Vice-President consists of members of both Houses of the Parliament. The nomination should be proposed by at least 20 electors and another 20 electors as seconders. The President of India administers the oath of office of Vice-President.
Term of Office and Power
- The Vice-President shall hold office for a term of 5 years from the date he/she enters his/her office.
- He/She may resign from his/her post by writing to the President or he/she may be removed from his/her office for the violation of the Constitution by the Parliament.
- The Vice-President is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. He/She mainly performs his/her duties with regard to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. His/Her Salary is also paid in this capacity.
- The Vice-President takes over the office of the President, if the President is unable to discharge his/her duties or the office of the President becomes vacant.
- In the above event, the Vice-President draws all the emoluments and salary of the President.