The President of India

The Article 52 says 'There shall be a president of India'. Article 53 says that the executive power of the union shall be vested in the president. The president is the head of the Indian State. He is the only nominal executive head.

The executive powers of the Union are exercised by the President of India either directly or through officer subordinate to him. The 42nd Amendment made it explicit that he would always act on the advice of the Council of Ministers. However, under the 44th Amendment the President has been given the option of asking the Cabinet to reconsider its advice. But he must act in accordance with the reconsidered advice.

Election of the President

He is indirectly elected by an electoral college comprising the elected members of the House of parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the states by a system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.

Qualification for election as President

  • He must be a citizen of India.
  • He must not be less than 35 years of age.
  • He must be qualified for election as member of Lok Sabha but shall not be a member.
  • He must not be holding any office of profit under the Government of India or any other Government.

A Governor of State or a Minister of the Union or State or Vice President of the Union will not, however, be considered as a person holding an office of profit.

Procedure of Election

The procedure of Presidential election is contained in Articles 54 and 55. While Article 54 provides for the creation of an electoral college consisting of all the elected M.L.A's and M.P's, Article 55 provides for the formula of uniformity in the scale of representation of different States, as far as practicable, by incorporating the method of proportional representation with single transferable vote system.

Term of Office

The President holds office for five years. Unless he resigns earlier or he is removed from office by impeachment. He is eligible for re-election.

Salary and Allowances

He is entitled to an official rent-free residence and he draws a salary of Rs. 50,000 per month. On retirement a pension of Rs. 20,000/- p.m.

Procedure for Impeachment

It is laid down in the constitution that the charge of violation of the Constitution may be preferred by either of the two chambers of the Union Parliament before the other House, which would then take up the responsibility of getting the charge investigated. However, in order that a charge is preferred by a House it is necessary that:

(a) a resolution containing the proposal preferring the charge of violation is moved after a 14-day notice in writing signed by not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the House levying the charge, and

(b) the resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the same House. The other House then investigates into the matter and, if a resolution is passed in that House by not less than two-thirds of its total membership substantiating the charge, the President is removed from his office.

Vacancy in the office of President

When the vacancy is going to be caused by the expiration of the term of the sitting President, an election to fill the vacancy must be completed before the expiration of the term. But in order to prevent an 'interregnum', owing to any possible delay in such completion, it is provided that the outgoing President must continue to hold office, notwithstanding that his term has expired, until his successor enters upon his office.

In case of vacancy arising by reason of any cause other than the expiry of the term of the incumbent in office an election to fill the vacancy must be held as soon as possible after, and in no case later than, six months from the date of occurrence of the vacancy. Immediately after such vacancy arises, it is the Vice-President who shall act as President.

Powers of the President

Executive Powers

All of the executive actions of the Govt. of India are formally taken in his name.

He appoints the Prime Minister, and the other Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Ministers hold the office during the pleasure of the President.

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, the chairman and the Members of the Union Public Service Commission, the Governor of the States, the Chairman and Members of the Finance Commission, and so on.

He can make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business (Article 77).

He can seek any information relating to administration of affairs of the Union, and proposals for legislation from the Prime Ministers (Article 78).

Legislative Powers

He can summon or prorogue both the houses of the Parliament and Dissolve the Lok Sabha.

He can summon a joint sitting of both the houses of the Parliament, which is presided over by the speaker of the Lok Sabha.

He can Address both the houses of the Parliament at the Commencement of the first session after each general election and the first session of the year.

He can send message to both the houses of the Parliament, whether with respect to a bill pending in the Parliament or otherwise.

He can appoint any member of the Rajya Sabha to preside over its proceedings when the offices of both, the chairman and the Deputy Chairman fall vacant simultaneously.

Financial Powers

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.

Judicial Powers

He appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of the Supreme Court and Zone high Courts.

He can seek advice from the Supreme Court on any question of law or fact. (Article 143)

Emergency Powers: National Emergency

On the grounds of security threat to India by war, external aggression or armed rebellion (The term 'armed rebellion' was inserted by the 44th Constitutional Amendment act (1978), replacing the original term' internal disturbance'), the President can proclaim this emergency only after receiving a written recommendation from the Cabinet.

Emergency Powers: State Emergency

The President's rule is also known as the Constitutional Emergency or the State Emergency. It can be proclaimed by the President on the failure of the Constitutional machinery in the State (Article 356), or failure to comply with or to give effect to the directions given by the Union (Article 365). The President's rule can be imposed when the President is satisfied, on the basis of either a report of the State Governor or Otherwise, that the Governance of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the Provision of the Constitution.

Veto Power

Veto is of the following four types:

  1. Absolute Veto, that is withholding the assent to the bill.
  2. Qualified Veto, which can be overridden by the Legislature with a higher majority.
  3. Suspensive Veto, which can be overridden by the Legislature with an ordinary majority.
  4. Pocket Veto, that is, delay in giving assent to the bill.

The veto power enjoyed by the President of India is a Combination of the Absolute, Suspensive and Pocket vetos. When a bill passed by the State Legislature is reserved by the Governor for Consideration of the President, the President can Give his assent to the bill, or Withhold its assent to bill, or Direct the Governor to return the bill for reconsideration of the state Legislature.

Discretionary Powers

The President of India almost always at on the aid and advise of the council of Ministers except under the following circumstances where he acts on his discretion:

  • In appointing a Prime Minister from among the contenders when no single party attains the majority after elections to the Lok Sabha.
  • A council of Ministers is voted out and after resigning advises the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha and Hold fresh elections (or resigns and advises so without being voted out).
  • While exercising the Pocket Veto.
  • Disqualifying members of the legislature when the Council's advise is not taken.
  • Can return the advise of the Council of Ministers once for its reconsideration.

Constitutional Position

The President has been made only a nominal executive. the real executive is the council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.

Bills that require Prior recommendation of the President

A bill to alter the boundaries of the State or to change the names of the state (Article 3).

A money bill as detailed in Article 110.

A financial bill (category one) involving Article 110 but containing another provisions as well.

A financial bill (category two) which is an ordinary bill but seeking to draw from the Consolidated fund of India can be taken up for consideration, that is reading two in the
process of passage of the bill.

Legislation involving Article 31A

Any legislation involving items of the taxation in which the states are interested or one that seeks to redefine agriculture income, etc.

A state bill that seeks to restrict freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse bill that require the previous sanction of the President cannot be questioned in the courts for its constitutionality, if such as sanction is not obtained after it is legislated upon, and the assent of the President is obtained.

List of Presidents in India

S.No. President Name From To
1 Dr. Rajendra Prasad 26 Jan 1950 12 May 1962
2 Dr. S Radhakrishnan 13 May 1962 13 May 1967
3 Dr. Zakir Hussain 13 May 1967 3 May 1969
4 V.V. Giri 3 May 1969 20 July 1969
5 Justice M. Hidyatullah 20 July 1969 24 Aug 1969
6 V.V.Giri 24 Aug 1969 24 Aug 1974
7 Fakhruudin Ali Ahmed 24 Aug 1974 11 Feb 1977
8 B.D.Jatti 11 Feb 1977 25 July 1977
9 Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy 25 Jul 1977 25 Jul 1982
10 Giani Zail Singh 25 Jul 1982 25 Jul 1987
11 R. Venkatraman 25 Jul 1987 25 Jul 1992
12 Dr. S.D.Sharma 25 Jul 1992 25 Jul 1997
13 K. R. Narayanan 25 Jul 1977 25 Jul 2002
14 A. P. J. Abdul Kalam 25 Jul 2002 25 Jul 2007
15 Pratibha Patil 25 Jul 2007 25 Jul 2012
16 Pranab Mukherjee 25 Jul 2012 Till Date