The President of India

In Part V of the Indian constitution, Articles 52 to 78 deal with the Union executive. It consists of the Vice President, the Prime minister, the Council of ministers, and the attorney general of India.

The President (Article 52) of India is referred to as the first citizen of India. The president of India is the head of the state of India and the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

The position of president is largely a ceremonial one and executive powers are de facto exercised by the Prime minister.

List of Presidents of India
Name of Presidents Tenure
Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) January 26, 1950 – May 13, 1962
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) May 13, 1962 – May 13, 1967
Dr. Zakir Hussain (1897-1969) May 13, 1967 – May 03, 1969
Varahagiri Venkatagiri (1884-1980) (Acting) May 03, 1969 – July 20, 1969
Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah (1905-1992) (Acting) July 20, 1969 – August 24, 1969
Varahagiri Venkatagiri (1884-1980) August 24, 1969 – August 24, 1974
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed (1905-1977) August 24, 1974 – February 11, 1977
B.D. Jatti (1913-2002) (Acting) February 11, 1977 – July 25, 1977
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (1913-1996) July 25, 1977 – July 25, 1982
Giani Zail Singh (1916-1994) July 25, 1982 – July 25, 1987
R. Venkataraman (1910-2009) July 25, 1987 – July 25, 1992
Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma (1918-1999) July 25, 1992 – July 25, 1997
K.R. Narayanan (1920-2005) July 25, 1997 – July 25, 2002
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015) July 25, 2002 – July 25, 2007
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil (Birth-1934) July 25, 2007 – July 25, 2012
Shri Pranab Mukherjee (1935-2020) July 25, 2012 – July 25, 2017
Sri Ram Nath Kovind (Birth- 1945) –

Ram Nath Kovind is 14th and current President.

July 25, 2017 – Incumbent

 

Election of President: (Article 54, and Election process- Article 55)

The election of the president is not directly by the people. The election is by members of the electoral college, these are:

  • The elected members of both the houses of parliament
  • The elected members of the legislative assembly of the state
  • The elected members of the legislative assemblies of UTs of Delhi and Puducherry.

The actual calculation for votes cast by a particular state is calculated by dividing the state’s population by 1000, which is divided again by the number of legislators from the State voting in the electoral college. This number is the number of votes per legislator in a given state.

Eligibility (Qualifications for election as President) and conditions:

Article 58 of the constitution sets the principal qualifications one must meet to be eligible for the office of the president. The eligibility of the candidate for President is as follows:

  • He must be a citizen of India;
  • must be completed the age of thirty-five years, and
  • should be qualified for election as a member of the House of the People (Lok Sabha).

A person shall not be eligible for election as President if he 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.

  • A current president or vice president, the Governor of any state, and a minister of any state or Union are permitted to stand as presidential candidates.
  • Under the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952 a candidate to be nominated for the office of president needs 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders for his name to appear on the ballot.
  • Each candidate has to make a security deposit of ₹15,000 (US$210) in the RBI. The security deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure one-sixth of the votes polled
Oath Of President (Article 60 – Oath or affirmation by the President):

The president is required to make and subscribe in the presence of the Chief justice of India or in his absence, the senior-most judge of the supreme court—an oath or affirmation that he/she shall protect, preserve and defend the constitution.

Conditions of President’s Office (Article 59):
  • 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 of a House of the Legislature of any State is 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.
  • The President shall not hold any other office of profit.
  • The President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of his official residences and shall be also entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament by law and until provision in that behalf is so made, such emoluments, allowances, and privileges as are specified in the Second Schedule.
  • The emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be diminished during his term of office.
  • In 2018, the Parliament increased the salary of the President from 1.5 lakh to 5 lakhs per month.
Term of President’s office:

Article 56(1) of the Constitution provides that the president shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters his office. According to Article 62, an election to fill a vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the President shall be completed before the expiration of the term.

  • In the USA a person cannot be elected to the office of President more than twice.
Impeachment of President:
  • By the process of Impeachment, the President can be removed from office for violation of the constitution.
  • The Impeachment charges can be initiated by either house of Parliament.
  • The charges should 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 two-thirds majority of the total number of members of the originating house. It is then sent to the other house to investigate the charges.
  • the President has the right to appear and to be represented at such an investigation.
  • If the second house also approves the charges made by the special majority again, the president stands impeached and is deemed to have vacated their office from the date when such a resolution stands passed.
  • No president has faced impeachment proceedings so the above provisions have never been used

Article 361 of the Constitution Gives protection to the president, though the president cannot be summoned for questioning except on his voluntary willingness to testify in the court in support of his controversial deeds, the unconstitutional decisions taken by the president would be declared invalid by the courts.

*** The case would be decided by the courts based on the facts furnished by the Union government for the president’s role. As clarified by the supreme court in the case Rameshwar Prasad & Ors vs Union of India & Anr on 24 January 2006; though the president cannot be prosecuted and imprisoned during his term of office, he can be prosecuted after he/she steps down from the post for any guilt committed during the term of the presidency as declared earlier by the courts

Vacancy in the President’s Office:

The Office of the president falls vacant in any of the following scenarios:

  • On the expiry of their term.
  • By reason of death.
  • By reason of resignation
  • Removal by the supreme court
  • Removal by Impeachment

In the Indian constitution, Article 65 says that the vice president of India will discharge the duties when the office falls vacant due to any reason other than the expiry of the term.

A vice-president during the act or discharges the functions of the president has all the powers and immunities of the president and is entitled to the same emoluments as the president.

When a vice-president discharges the duties of the president, he/she does not function as the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

If the President and Vice President both offices are vacant then, the chief justice or in his absence senior-most judge of the supreme court of India will discharge the function of President till the election of a new President or Vice President.

Power and Function of President

The Powers and Functions performed by President are as follows:

  1. Executive powers
  2. legislative Powers
  3. Financial Powers
  4. Judicial Power
  5. Diplomatic Power
  6. Military Power
  7. Emergency Power
Executive Power of President:

As given in Article 53, The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution. The executive power can be summarized as:

  • All executive actions of the government of India are formally taken in his name.
  • He can make rules for the convenient transaction of business of the union government, and for the allocation of the said business among the ministers.
  • He appoints the Prime minister and other ministers.
  • He appoints the Attorney General
  • He appoints the comptroller and auditor general of India, the chief election commissioner, the chairman and members of UPSC, The governor of states, the chairman and the members of the finance commission, etc.
  • he can require the PM to submit, for consideration of the council of ministers.
  • He can appoint an Interstate council to promote Center-state and inter-state cooperation.
  • He administers UTs directly through administrators appointed by him. etc
Legislative Power of President:

to facilitate the lawmaking process per the constitution (Article 78, Article 86, etc.). The president summons both the houses of parliament and prorogues them.

  • He can dissolve Lok Sabha
  • The president addresses parliament to inaugurate after the general election, and at the beginning of the first session every year, (Article 87 (1))
  • Bills passed by parliament become laws after receiving the assent of the President. (Article 111)
  • 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.
  • He can return a bill to parliament (not a Money bill), for reconsideration.
  • He can send back the bill with his recommendation to pass the bill under the constituent powers of parliament follows article 368.
  • He can promulgate ordinances if the parliament is not in session. These ordinances must be approved by the parliament within six weeks from its reassembly. He can withdraw an ordinance at any time.
  • He nominates 12 members of the Rajya Sabha from amongst persons having special knowledge, or experience in Literature, Science, Art, and Social services.
  • He can nominate two members of Lok Sabha from the Anglo India Community (Article 331).
Financial Power of President:
  • A money bill can be introduced in the parliament only with the president’s recommendation.
  • The president lays the Annual Financial Statement, i.e. the Union budget, before the parliament.
  • The president can take advances out of the Contingency Fund of India to meet unforeseen expenses.
  • He Constitutes a Finance Commission every five years to recommend the distribution of the taxes between the center and the States
Judicial Powers of President:
  • He appoints the Chief Justice of India and other judges on the advice of the chief justice.
  • The President can dismiss the judges if and only if the two Houses of the Parliament pass resolutions to that effect by a two-thirds majority of the members present.
  • If the president considers a question of law or a matter of public importance has arisen, he can also ask for the advisory opinion of the Supreme court. (article- 143)
  • the president can ask the attorney general to attend the parliamentary proceedings and report to him any unlawful functioning if any (article 88)
Diplomatic Power of 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. The president represents India in international forums and affairs where such a function is chiefly ceremonial. The president may also send and receive diplomats

Military Power of President:

The president is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The president can declare war or conclude peace, on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers headed by the prime minister

Emergency Power of President:

The president can declare three types of emergencies:

Pardoning Powers of President:

According to Article 72, the president is empowered with powers to grant pardons in the following situations:

  • Punishment is for an offense against Union law.
  • Punishment is by a military court
  • Death sentence
Veto Power of President:

Three Vetos of the president of India:

  • Absolute veto
  • Suspensive Veto
  • Pocket Veto

 

The president of India- Related Articles Polity UPSC

The president of India – related Article (52 to 62)

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References:

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