President of India

India’s president is head of the Indian state, first citizen of India and supreme commander of the Indian armed forces.

Qualification to become President of India

Article 58 of the constitution lays down the qualifications of a president in India. These qualifications are:

  • He should be a citizen of India,
  • He must have completed the age of 35 years
  • He must be qualified to become a Lok Sabha member.
  • He should not hold any office of profit under Union or state government.

Election Process

The president is elected for a term of 5 years. He may terminate his own term by writing a resignation addressed to Vice president. He can be removed from the office ONLY by impeachment. He is eligible to re-elect for the same office for unlimited times. The president is not elected by the people directly. A president is elected by an electoral college which is made of:

  • Elected members of parliament (MPs from Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha).
  • Elected members of State legislative members, including that if NCT of Delhi and Pondicherry

Members of legislative councils in the states where there are bicameral legislatures can NOT participate in election of President.  Further, nominated members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha don’t participate in election of President.

Proportional Representation

With a view to ensure uniformity of the representation of different states and parity between the Union and the states, the constitution in article 56 provides an ingenious method. The formula for value of vote for an MLA is as follows:

The formula for value of the vote for an MP is as follows:

This is called system of proportional representation. In this, the MPs and MLAs do not have one vote each but their votes are equal to the average number of people they represent. Since MPs represent the whole country they have more votes, and MLAs have fewer votes than MPs as they represent only the people in their states. MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have 708 votes each {as per Census 1971}. Compared to this, MLAs have about 100 or 200 votes, depending on the size of their states. MLAs from Uttar Pradesh have largest number of votes. The value of vote of each Member of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh is 208 and that of Sikkim is 7.

The population of the States for the purposes of calculation of value of votes for the Presidential Election shall mean the population as ascertained at the 1971-census.

Process of Election

The elections of President are conducted by Election Commission. By convention, the Secretary General, Lok Sabha and the Secretary General, Rajya Sabha is appointed as the Returning Officer by rotation. The value of votes is predetermined as mentioned above.   The MPs and MLA cast vote on the ballot paper / machine by marking their preference to the candidates.  Once all the votes have been cast, the total valid votes are multiplied by the value of each vote and that total is credited to the candidate as the total value of votes secured. To win the election, the candidate needs to secure a quota of votes which is arrived at by dividing the total value of valid votes by 2 and adding one to the quotient, ignoring the remainder, if any.

For example, assuming the total value of valid votes polled by all candidates is 1,00,001. The quota required for getting elected is:

If any candidate has secured the above quota of votes, he/ she is declared elected.  If none of them secures the above data then Returning Officer proceeds further to second round of counting during which the candidate having lowest value of votes of first preference is excluded and his votes are distributed among the remaining candidates according to the second preference marked on these ballot papers.  The other continuing candidates receive the votes of excluded candidate at the same value at which he/she received them in the first round of counting.  The Returning Officer will go on excluding the candidates with lowest number of votes in subsequent rounds of counting till either one of the continuing candidates gets the required quota or till only one candidate remains in the field as the continuing candidate and shall declare him/her as elected.

Dispute in the Presidential election

All doubts or disputes arising out of election of the president are decided by the Supreme Court which is the only authority to try an election petition regarding President’s election. A petition regarding the dispute in election can be filed by any of the presidential candidates or any 20 or more electors as joint petitioners.  Petition should be filed within 30 days of declaration of the result. Further, if election of a person as President is declared void by the Supreme Court, the acts done by him before the date of such judgement of Supreme Court don’t become null / void and continue to remain in force.

President in Office: Conditions

Although Parliament of India is made of President, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, yet President is not a member of any house of the parliament or any state legislature.  If a presidential candidate is a MP or MLA, he will need to vacate the seat once elected. Further, he should not hold any office of profit.

Salary and Emoluments

The president of India is entitled to rent free accommodation, allowances and privileges which are decided by parliament by law. The salary and allowances of the president are charged from Consolidated Fund of India. The original constitution provided Rs. 10,000 per month salary for president. In 1998 it was raised to Rs. 50,000. In 2008 the salary was raised to Rs. 1.5 Lakh per month.

Oath and Affirmation

Before taking charge, the President has to subscribe to an oath which inter alia included the oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. In this sense, President takes oath as guardian of Indian Constitution. However, there are several other provisions which put several restrictions on the way president performs his duties. For example, any amendment of the constitution which might transgress the basic features or transgress the basic aspirations of the people, then article 368 as amended by 24th amendment says that president will give assent to such bill. However, such an act can come to Supreme Court for scrutiny and Supreme Court can nullify that act. Due to this, it is Supreme Court which is real guardian of the Constitution.

Impeachment of President

As per Article 61, President of India can be impeached on ground of violation of the Constitution. However what amounts to violation of the Constitution has not been defined. The process of impeachment can begin in any of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. The charges for impeachment should be signed by 1/4 members of the house in which the process begins and a notice of 14 days should be given to the President. The impeachment bill has to be passed by majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House {special majority}. One passed in that house, the bill reaches to another house, which shall investigate the charges. President has right to appear and be represented in case of such investigations. If other house also sustains those charges, then it would again need to pass the bill by special majority and thus president stands removed from the office on which the bill is passed in other house. Since it is a bill for removal of president himself, no presidential assent is needed here.

  • It worth note here that the nominated members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha don’t participate in election but participate in impeachment of president.
  • The elected members of legislative assemblies of the states though participate in election of the President, but have no role to play in his impeachment.
  • The nominated members of state assemblies and elected as well as nominated members of legislative councils of the bicameral houses in states participate in neither election nor impeachment of president.

No president of India has been impeached so far.

Vacancy in Office of the President

A vacancy in office of the president may occur due many reasons such as

  • Expiry of his tenure of five years
  • Resignation or impeachment
  • Death or any other disqualification.

The election to fill a vacancy arising out of expiration of the term of president must be completed before expiration of his / her term. If there is a delay, the president continues to hold the office, until his / her successor takes charge.

If any vacancy arises out of death/ resignation / removal, it must be filled within 6 months. During the vacancy in the office of president, Vice president would be discharging the duties of a president. If Vice President is also NOT available, Chief Justice of India will discharge the function of the president.  If Chief Justice of India is also unavailable, then senior most judge of the Supreme Court will discharge this function.  Any person (vice president / chief justice of India/ senior most Judge of Supreme Court) while discharging the duties of the president shall be entitled to all powers and privileges of the president.

Example: In 1969, when President Dr Zakir Hussain died, Vice-President VV Giri worked as acting president. However, VV Giri resigned soon to contest election of the President. Due to this, Chief Justice of India, M Hidayatullah worked as the officiating President from 20 July, 1969 to 24 August, 1969.

President to occupy office for more than one term

Only Dr. Rajendra Prasad has occupied the office of President for two terms.

Presidents to die in office

So far, only two presidents viz. Dr Zakir Hussain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed have died during their term of office

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