The President of India is the head of state of the Republic of India. The President is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of India and is the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.
Article 58 of the Constitution sets the principle qualifications one must meet to be eligible to the office of the President. A President must be:
· A citizen of India
· Of 35 years of age or above
· Qualified to become a member of the Lok Sabha
· Must not holds any 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. Exception:
1. The current Vice President.
2. The Governor of any State.
3. A Minister of the Union or of any State (Including Prime Minister and Chief Ministers)
· Whenever the office becomes vacant, the new President is chosen by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of Parliament(M.P.), the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies (Vidhan Sabha) of all States and the elected members of the legislative assemblies (M.L.A.) of two Union Territories i.e., National Capital Territory(NCT) of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry.
· The nomination of 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. Each candidate has to make a security deposit of
in the Reserve Bank of India. The security
deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure
one-sixth of the votes polled.
· The election is held in accordance to the system of Proportional representation by means of Single transferable vote method. The Voting takes place by secret ballot system. The manner of election of President is provided by Article 55 of the Constitution.
F Term length Five years (renewable)
F First President Rajendra Prasad
F Salary 150000 (US$2,400) (Per Month)
F Oath by Chief Justice of India
· The President may be removed before the expiry of the term through impeachment. A President can be removed for violation of the Constitution of India.
· The process may start in either of the two houses of the Parliament. The house initiates the process by levelling the charges against the President. The charges are contained in a notice that has to be signed by at least one quarter of the total members of that house. The notice is sent up to the President and 14 days later, it is taken up for consideration.
· A resolution to impeach the President has to be passed by a special majority (two-third majority of the total number of members of the originating house). It is then sent to the other house. The other house investigates the charges that have been made. During this process, the President has the right to defend oneself through an authorised counsel. If the second house also approves the charges made by special majority again, the President stands impeached and is deemed to have vacated his/her office from the date when such a resolution stands passed. Other than impeachment, no other penalty can be given to the President for the violation of the Constitution.
· No president has faced impeachment proceedings so the above provisions have never been used
Powers and Duties
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 of Indian constitution). He is liable for impeachment for violation of the constitution (Article 61). President is the common head of all independent constitutional entities.
· Legislative power is constitutionally vested in the Parliament of India of which the president is the head to facilitate law making process as per constitution (Article 78, Article 86, etc.).
· The President summons both the Houses (the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament and prorogues them. He can dissolve the Lok Sabha.
· As per Article 74, President shall abide by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister provided the given advice is in accordance with the constitution.
· Article 143 gave power to the president to consult supreme court for constitutional validity of any issue.
· 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.
· 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.
· When either of the two Houses of the Parliament of India is not in session, and if government feels the need for immediate procedure, the President can promulgate ordinances which have the same force and effect as laws passed by Parliament. These are in the nature of interim or temporary legislation and their continuance is subject to parliamentary approval. Ordinances remain valid for no more than six weeks from the date the Parliament is convened unless approved by it earlier.
The President is responsible for making a wide variety of appointments. These include-
· 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.
· The President appoints 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.
· 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
· All money bills originate in Lok Sabha / House of the people (Article 109).
· The president shall cause to be laid before Parliament (Article 112), the Annual Budget and supplementary Budget for its approval.
· No money bill can be introduced in Parliament without his or her assent.
· The President appoints a finance commission every five years.
· 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.
All international treaties and agreements are negotiated and concluded on behalf of the President. However, in practice, such negotiations are usually carried out by the Prime Minister along with his Cabinet (especially the Foreign Minister). Also, such treaties are subject to the approval of the Parliament. The President represents India in international forums and affairs where such a function is chiefly ceremonial. The President may also send and receive diplomats, i.e. the officers from the Indian Foreign Service. The President is the first citizen of the country.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence forces of India. The President can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of parliament only under the decision of the Council of the Chiefs of Staffs of the Armed Forces, Military Secretary and President's Officer (Deputy Military Secretary). All important treaties and contracts are made in the President's name.He also appoints the chiefs of the service branches of the armed forces.
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
· 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 President can declare three types of emergencies :- National, State, Financial under articles 352, 356 & 360 in addition to promulgating ordinances under article 123.
National emergency (Article-352)
· National emergency can be declared in the whole of India or a part of its territory on causes of war or armed rebellion or an external aggression. Such an emergency was declared in India in 1962 (Indo-China war), 1971 (Indo-Pakistan war), 1975 to 1977 (declared by Indira Gandhi on account of "internal disturbance").
· Under Article 352 of the India Constitution, the President can declare such an emergency only on the basis of a written request by the Cabinet Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Such a proclamation must be approved by the Parliament within one month. Such an emergency can be imposed for six months. It can be extended by six months by repeated parliamentary approval, there's no maximum duration.
· In such an emergency, Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens can be suspended. The six freedoms under Right to Freedom are automatically suspended. However, the Right to Life and Personal Liberty cannot be suspended (Article 21).
· The President can make laws on the 66 subjects of the State List (which contains subjects on which the state governments can make laws).Also, all money bills are referred to the President for its approval.
· The term of the Lok Sabha can be extended by a period of up to one year, but not so as to extend the term of Parliament beyond six months after the end of the declared emergency.
State Emergency (Article-356)
If the President is satisfied, on the basis of the report of the Governor of the concerned state or from other sources that the governance in a state cannot be carried out according to the provisions in the Constitution, he can declare a state of emergency in the state. Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament within a period of 2 months.
Financial emergency (Article- 360)
· Under article 360 of the constitution, President can proclaim financial emergency when the financial stability or credit of the nation or of any part of its territory is threatened. However till now, no guide lines defining the situation of financial emergency in the entire country or a state or a union territory or a panchayat or a municipality or a corporation, are framed either by finance commission or by central government. Such an emergency must be approved by the Parliament within two months by simple majority. It has never been declared.
· A state of financial emergency remains in force indefinitely until revoked by the President.The President can reduce the salaries of all government officials, including judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, in case of a financial emergency
Interesting Facts about Presidents of India
» Rashtrapati Bhavan which is the Official Residence of President of India was earlier called Viceroy’s House.
» Rashtrapati Bhavan was built under Charles Hardinge who was the then Viceroy of India. This Viceroy’s House was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhavan when Rajendra Prasad became the first President and occupied this building.
» V V Giri became first Acting President of India in 1969 after the death of Zakir Hussain in office.
» V V Giri was elected full feldged President just after few months. He was the only person who worked as Acting President and President.
» There were 2 Presidents who died during their incumbency period i.e. on Chair. They were – Zakir Husain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad.
» Rajendra Prasad was the first President of Republic India. He was the only person who held the chair twice.
» 4 Presidents have received Bharat Ratna
· S Radhakrishnan in 1954
· Rajendra Prasad in 1962
· Zakir Hussain in 1963
· APJ Abdul Kalam in 1997
» The only woman to serve the post of President was Pratibha Patil who was the 12th President.
» The only President (Acting) who worked earlier as Chief Justice of India is Justice Hidayatullah.
» The only President from Janta Party was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.
» The only President who earlier worked as Speaker of Lok Sabha – Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.
» The only President who earlier worked as 1 st Chief Minister of a State was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. He was the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.