PRESIDENT OF INDIA
In the parliamentary set up of Government, the Executive is responsible for legislation. The British model of parliamentary form was found to be most viable for Indian set up. In this system of parliamentary democracy, President, who is indirectly elected, is also the Head of the State. The executive powers of the Union Government are vested in the President. The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. There is no constitutional bar on the number of time a person can be elected as President. The convention of two-terms, which was started in Nehruvian period, did not last too long and from the last few Presidents Indians have resorted to one-term convention. The President is not a member of either House of Parliament or for that matter a State Legislature. The term of the office is five years though there are provisions that it can be terminated in between. It can be terminated on four infra mentioned grounds : (1) by resignation in writing to the Vice President of India, (2) by impeachment for violation of the Constitution; (3) by death, and (4) invalidation of President’s election by the Supreme Court of India.
What qualifications are required for the office of the President of India?
In order to be qualified for election as the President of India, a person must —
(a) be a citizen of India;
(b) have completed the age of thirty-five years;
(c) be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People; and
(d) must not hold and 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 [Art. 58]
But a sitting President or Vice-President of the Union or the Governor of any State or a Minister either for the Union or for any State is not disqualified for election as President [Art 58]
Election of The President
The President is elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. In this provision, the term “State” includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Indirect election is resorted to because President is supposed to be a nominal titular Head of the State acting on the advice of Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Members of the State Legislative Councils are excluded from participating in President’s election. In the Electoral College each member has one vote though the value of each vote is different from one State to the other. Likewise, the value of vote of the Member of Parliament also differs from the value of vote of the members of a Legislative Assembly. The election does take account of the fact that States have their uniform representation and parity is maintained between the Union and the States. This is also culminated into the fact that federal ethos is further strengthened.
Why indirect election of President was supported by the framers of Indian Constitution?
Indirect election of President gives recognition to the status of the States in the federal system. The system of indirect election was criticised by some as falling short of the democratic ideal underlying universal franchise, but indirect election of President was supported by the framers of the Constitution the following grounds:
(i) Direct election by an electorate of some one billion of people would mean a tremendous loss of time, energy and money
(ii) Under the system of responsible Government introduced by the Constitution, real power would vest in the ministry; so, it would be anomalous to elect the President directly by the people without giving him real powers.
Term of Office of President
The President’s term of office is five years from the date on which he enters upon his office; but he is eligible for re-election [Arts 56- 57]. The President may resign his office by
writing under his hand addressed to the Vice President of India,
He can also be removed from his office for violation of the Constitution, by the process of impeachment [Art. 56]. The only ground for impeachment specified in Art. 61(1) is ‘violation of the Constitution’.
Procedure for 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. 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 that House; and
(b) the resolution is then passed by 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 [Art. 61].
Since the Constitution provides the mode and ground for removing the President he cannot removed otherwise than by impeachment in accordance with the terms of Arts. 56 and 61.
Conditions of President’s Office
The President shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the legislature of any State, and if a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the Legislature of any State be elected President, he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as President shall not hold any other office of profit [Art 59 (1)].