The President along with the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister and the Attorney General of India comprises the Central executive which has been dealt from Articles 52 to 78 of the Constitution.
The President is the head of the state and the formal executive. All executive action at the centre is expressed to be taken in his name. The President of India is the first citizen of India and the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces.
The Constitution only formally vests functions in the hands of the President. In reality he has no function to discharge his discretion and or his individual judgment. He has to act on ministerial advice and therefore the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers constitute the real and effective executive.
Elections of the President
The office of the president is created by Article 52 of the Constitution and the matters of election are dealt from Article 54 to 60 of the Constitution.
The president is elected indirectly in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot.
Eligibility to become President
Article 58 of the Constitution sets the 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
- Should not hold any office of profit under the union government or any state government or any local authority or any public authority.
Note – A sitting president or vice-president of the union, governor of any state and a minister of the union or any state is not deemed to hold any profit and hence qualified as a presidential candidate.
- Elected members of both the houses of the parliament
- Elected members of legislative assemblies of states
- Elected members of legislative assemblies of UTs of Delhi and Puducherry.
Value of Votes of an MP and an MLA
Value of vote of an MLA =
Value of vote of an MP =
Quota of Votes
A candidate must secure a fixed quota of votes in order to get selected as a President. Quota of votes is determined by :–
Electoral quota =
Nomination of candidate
- 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 ₹ 15,000 (US$220) 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.
Oath or Affirmation by the president
The oath of office to the president is administered by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, the senior most judge of the Supreme court available. The oath is administered under article 60 of the constitution of India.
Conditions of President’s office
- He should not be a member of any house of parliament or a house of state legislature. If any such person is elected as president then he is deemed to have vacated his seat in that house.
- He should not hold any other office of profit.
- He is entitled to Rashtrapati Bhawan, such emoluments and allowances as determined by the president. The current monthly salary of the president is Rs.5 Lakhs.
Term of President’s office
- The President holds office for a period of five years.
- He can resign from his office by addressing the resignation to Vice-President.
- He is also liable for election for any number of terms. However, in USA, a person can only become president for maximum two terms.
- The President of India can also be removed from his office by the process of Impeachment.
Impeachment of President
- The procedure of impeachment of president is enumerated in article 61 of the constitution of India.
- The president can be removed from his office on the violation of the constitution of India.
- The impeachment process can be initiated in either house of the parliament after giving a 14 days’ advance notice to the president.
- The charge notice has to be signed by at least one quarter of the total members of that house where the charge is initiated.
- A resolution to impeach the President has to be passed by a 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. If the second house also approves the charges made by special majority again, the President stands impeached and is deemed.
- During this process, the President has the right to defend oneself through an authorised counsel.
Note – The nominated members of either house of parliament can participate in the impeachment process though they do not participate in the election.
The elected members of state legislative assemblies and legislative assemblies of UT of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the impeachment though they participate in the election.
Vacancy in the office of President
The office of the president falls vacant –
- On expiry of term
- By death
- By resignation
- By impeachment
- By Supreme Court (in case the election is declared void)
The election must be held before the expiration of term of president. In case of delay, the president continues to hold office beyond his term until his successor assumes charge. This is provided in the constitution to avoid “Interregnum”.
In case of vacancy due to any reason other than expiry of the term, the election should be held within six months from the date of vacancy. The newly elected president shall hold the office for complete five years.
Article 65 of the Indian Constitution says that the Vice-President of India will have to discharge the duties, if the Office falls vacant due to any reason other than expiry of the term. In case the office of vice-president is vacant, the chief justice of India acts as the president, or in case of vacancy in CJI office, the senior most judge of the SC will discharge the duties of President.
When any person discharges the duties of president, he enjoys all the emoluments and immunities enjoyed by the president.
Powers and Functions of President
- All executive actions of the Government of India are formally taken in his name.
- He can make rules specifying the manner in which the orders and other instruments made and executed in his name shall be authenticated.
- He can make rules for more convenient transaction of business of the Union government, and for allocation of the said business among the ministers.
- He appoints the prime minister and the other ministers. They hold office during his pleasure.
- He appoints the attorney general of India and determines his remuneration. The attorney general holds office during the pleasure of the President.
- He appoints the comptroller and auditor general of India, the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners, the chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission, the governors of states, the chairman and members of finance commission, and so on.
- He can seek any information relating to the administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the prime minister.
- He can require the Prime Minister to submit, for consideration of the council of ministers, any matter on which a decision has been taken by a minister but, which has not been considered by the council.
- He can appoint a commission to investigate into the conditions of SCs, STS and other backward classes.
- He can appoint an inter-state council to promote centre-state and inter-state cooperation.
- He can declare any area as scheduled area and has powers with respect to the administration of scheduled area.
- He can summon or prorogue the parliament and dissolve the Lok Sabha.
- He can address the Parliament at the commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of each year
- He can send messages to the houses of parliament whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise
- He can appoint any member of the Lok Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the speaker and the deputy speaker fall vacant. Similarly, he can also appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both the Chairman and Deputy Chairman falls vacant
- He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge of practical experience in Literature, science, art and social service
- He decides on questions as to disqualification of members of the Parliament in consultation with the election commission
- His prior recommendation or permission is needed to introduce certain types of bills in the parliament
- He can promulgate ordinances when the parliament is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the Parliament within 6 weeks from its reassembly. He can also withdraw an ordinance anytime
- He lays the reports of CAG, UPSC, finance commission and others before the parliament.
Powers with respect to bills
When a bill is sent to the president after it has been passed by the parliament he can:
- Give his assent to the bill
- Withhold his assent to the bill
- Return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament
However, if the bill is passed Again by the parliament, with or without amendments, the president has to give his assent to the bill.
When a Bill passed by a state legislature is reserved by the Governor for consideration of the president. The president can
- Give his assent to the bill
- Withhold his assent to the bill
- Direct the Governor to return the bill (if it is not a money bill) for reconsideration of the state legislature
Note - It is not obligatory for the President to give his assent even if the bill is again passed by the state legislature and sent again to him for his consideration
- Money bill can be introduced in the Parliament only with his prior recommendation
- He causes to be laid before the Parliament, the annual financial statement
- No demand for a grant can be made except on his recommendation
- He can make advances out of the contingency fund of India to meet any unforeseen expenditure.
- He constitutes a finance commission after every five years to recommend the distribution of revenues between the centre and the states.
- He appoints the chief justice and the judges of supreme court and high courts
- He can seek advice from the supreme court on any question of law. However, the advice tendered by the supreme court is not binding on the president
- He can grant pardon, reprieve, respite and remission of punishment.
- He is the Supreme commander of the defence forces of India. In that capacity, he appoints the chiefs of the army, the navy and the airforce.
- He can declare war or conclude peace, subject to the approval of the parliament.
Under Article 72 of the Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death. However, The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independent of the government.
The pardoning power of the president includes the following:
- Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments and disqualifications.
- Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment for a lighter form. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment, which in turn may be commuted to a simple imprisonment.
- Remission: It implies reducing the period of sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for two years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
- Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
- Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.
Veto Power of the President
When a bill is passed by the parliament, it has to be presented to the President for his approval. It is on President of India to either reject the bill, return the bill or withhold his assent to the bill. The choice of the President over the bill is called his veto power. Veto Power of the President of India is guided by Article 111 of the Indian Constitution.
When the President exercises his absolute veto, a bill never sees the day of the light. The bill ends even after passed by the Indian Parliament and does not become an act.
President uses his absolute veto in the following two cases:
- When the bill passed by the Parliament is a Private Member Bill
- When the cabinet resigns before President could give his assent to the bill. The new cabinet may advise the President to not give his assent to the bill passed by the old cabinet.
Note - In 1954, it was exercised by Dr. Rajendra Prasad to withhold his assent to the PEPSU appropriation bill. Again in 1991, this veto was used by the then President R Venkataraman against salary, allowances and pension of MP (amendment) bill.
- President uses his suspensive veto when he returns the bill to the Indian Parliament for its reconsideration.
- His suspensive veto can be over-ridden by the re-passage of the bill by the Indian Parliament. If the Parliament resend the bill with or without amendment to the Indian President, he has to approve the bill without using any of his veto powers.
- With respect to state bills, state legislature has no power to override the suspensive veto of President. Governor can withhold the bill for the President’s consideration and even if state legislature resends the bill to governor and governor to President, he still can withhold his assent.
- When the Parliament resends the bill to the President, it has to follow only the ordinary majority in the houses and not the higher majority.
- President cannot exercise his suspensive veto in relation to Money Bill
- The bill is kept pending by the President for an indefinite period when he exercises his pocket veto. He neither rejects the bill nor returns the bill for reconsideration.
- Constitution does not give any time-limit to President within which he has to act upon the bill. Therefore, the President uses his pocket veto where he doesn’t have to act upon the bill.
- Unlike the American President who has to resend the bill within 10 days, the Indian President has no such time-rule.
- In 1986, the president Zail Singh, exercised this veto against Indian Post Office (Amendment) bill passed by Rajiv Gandhi Government.
Ordinance making power of the president – Article 123
The constitution of India under article 123 empowers the president to promulgate ordinances during the recess of parliament. These ordinances have the same force and effect as an act of parliament.
Limitations of ordinance making power
- He can promulgate an ordinance only when both the houses of Parliament are not in session or when either of the two houses of parliament is not in session.
- He can make an ordinance only when he is satisfied that the circumstances exist that render it necessary for him to take immediate action.
- Every Ordinance must be laid before both the houses of Parliament when it resembles. If the ordinance is approved by both the houses it becomes an act of Parliament. If the parliament takes no action at all, the ordinance ceases to operate on the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of parliament.