The President of the Republic of India is the Head of State of India and the Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces.the President is the nominal executive or a Constitutional ruler. He is the head of the nation, but does not govern the nation. Our Union Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister is the real executive. And the President rules the country on the advice of the Prime Minister and his colleagues.
The President is indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both houses of Parliament and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the states. The members of state assemblies have been included in the Electoral College to prevent the President from being elected merely by the vote of the party in power at the centre.
Current President of India
The 13th and current President is Pranab Mukherjee, who was elected on 22 July 2012, and sworn in on 25 July 2012.He is also the first Bengali to be elected as President.In a political career spanning six decades, Mukherjee was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Prior to his election as President, Mukherjee was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012, and the Congress party's top troubleshooter.
Qualifications for the Office of President
1) He should be a citizen of India,
2) He should be of 35 years or above of age,
3) He should be qualified for becoming a member of the Lok Sabha,
4) He should not hold any office of profit, and
5) He should not be a member of the Parliament or of a State Legislature.
Term of Office
The President is elected for a term of five years from the date on which he enters his office and is eligible for re-election (Articles 56-57). But his term office years maybe cut short if he (i) resigns (by writing addressed to the Vice-President), or (ii) is removed on charges of violation of the Constitution by the process of impeachment as laid down in the Constitution.
Election Process of the President
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 MLAs and MPs, Article 55 provides for the formula of uniformity in the scale of representation of different States, as far as practicably, by incorporating the method of proportional representation with single transferable vote system. Total number of votes of an elected
MLA= Population of the State/ Total number of elected MPs
Total number of votes of an MP= Total number of votes as assigned to all elected MLAs/
Total number of elected MLAs
This method of election was intended to make the Presidential election broad based to achieve political balance between the centre and the states. Consequently the President represents not only the Union but also the states. This is in keeping with the federal character of the Indian Polity.
No person can be declared elected as the President unless, he secures more than half of the total votes casted. Since the election of the President is by proportional representation by means by single transferable vote, the next step is to ascertain the quota.
To determine the quota, the total number of votes polled is divided by the total number of members to be returned plus one and by adding one to the quotient. The formula is:
Number of votes polled + 1/ Number of members to be elected + 1
Oath or Affirmation by the President
Article 60 says that every person acting as President or discharging the function of the President shall, before entering upon his office, make and subscribe in the presence of the chief Justice of India or, in his absence, the senior most Judge of the Chief.
Justice of India or, in affirmation in the following form, that is to say to preserve protect and defend the constitution and the law to devote himself to the services as well being of the people of India and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of India.”
Emoluments and Allowances
Article 59(3) says that the President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of his official residence and shall be also entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as may be determined by Parliament by law. His emoluments at present is fixed 1.5 lakh per month.
On the expiration of his term or resignation, the President is entitled to an annual pension of Rs 3, 00,000. The emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be diminished during his term of office. He is permitted to spend to total amount of Rs. 15, 26,000 a year on travel, entertainment, discretionary grants, staff, household expenses and his own allowances.
How the President is elected?
The election of the President is a complex exercise and is done by an Electoral College as per the provisions laid down in the Constitution.
The members of an Electoral College consisting of
(i) Elected members of both Houses of Parliament.
(ii) Elected members of Legislative Assemblies of States (including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Pondicherry).
Nominated members of either houses of Parliament or State Assemblies are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College.
The total members in the Electoral College in 2007 are 4,896. The break-up is as follows:
Rajya Sabha: 233
Lok Sabha: 543
State Assemblies: 4,120
The constitution stipulates uniformity, as far as practicable, in the scale of representation of the different states. For securing such uniformity among States as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, a formula is given for determination of the value of vote which each elected MP or MLA is entitled to cast.
Value of Votes
Each MLA’s vote is calculated on the basis
Slate Population/1,000 x No. of State MLAs = Value of one MLAs vote
Criticism of the Election Method
Critics have pointed out three defects in the Presidential Electoral College, namely, exclusion of State’s second chambers, a possibility of the dissolution of hostile legislature on the eve of election, and the possibility of a Presidential election by a lame-duck College.
The issue of excluding the State's’ second chambers was raised in the Constituent Assembly also, but the present formula seems to be justified on two counts: one, the constitution of the State Legislative Council’s are not uniform in this respect and, two, the future of second chambers in States is uncertain.
The President is empowered by Article 356 to dissolve a unit in the Electoral College to his advantage, but it is expected that he should be able to defend his action in terms of the political situation obtaining in the State concerned. Otherwise, his action will discredit him and may even cost him his office. Although, on paper, the Presidential election is a complicated process, in practice it is a comparatively simple process.
Powers of the President
Under Article 53 of the Constitution the executive Powers of the Union is vested in the President who is empowered to exercise it either directly or through officers subordinate to him. The list or powers which the Constitution confers upon the President may be broadly classified under the following categories.
Administrative Powers of The President
The President remains the formal head of the administration. The various departments of the government are under the control and responsibility of the respective Ministers in charge. All contracts and assurances of property made on behalf of the Government of India are expressed to be made in the name of the President. The President however shall have a right to be informed of the affairs of the Union government.
The President appoints and has powers to remove high dignitaries of the state. These include the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Union Cabinet. In such cases where the Prime Minister is appointed even though his party does not command an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the President may qualify the appointment of the Prime Minister with the proviso that he shall prove his majority in the Lok Sabha within a specified period.
The President also appoints the Attorney General for India, the Auditor and Comptroller General of India, Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts of India, Members of the Finance Commission, Union Public Service Commission, Chief Election Commissioner and other members of the Commission, special Officers such as those for Linguistic Minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, etc.
In making some of these appointments, the President, under provisions of the Constitution, consults persons other than his own ministers. The President of India does not have any absolute power to appoint any officer or official of the government. Federal offices are filled by the Union Public Service Commission.
Military Powers of The President
The President has the powers to take action as to declaration of war or peace but the exercise of such powers is to be regulated by the Parliament. The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. However he has no powers that he could exercise on his own in this capacity. The ritual is meaningful only to the extent that it puts the Armed Forces under the command of a civilian authority.
Diplomatic Power of The President
The task of negotiating treaties and agreements with other countries, subject to ratification by the Parliament, belongs to the President but here again he has to act on the advice of his Ministers. He has the power of appointing Indian representatives to other countries and of receiving diplomatic representatives of other countries.
Legislative Powers of The President
These include Summoning, Prorogation and Dissolution of the Houses of the Parliament and dissolution of the lower House (Lok Sabha). The President also summons a joint sitting of both House of Parliament in case of a deadlock between them.
The President addresses both Houses assembled together at the first session after the conclusion of each general election. The opening address is used to announce the programme of the Cabinet for the session.
Right to Address and send Messages
The President also has the right to address either House or their joint sitting at any time and to require the attendance of members for this purpose. He may send messages to either House in regard to any pending Bill or any other matter. The House must consider the message.
Right to Nominating Members to the House
In the Upper House (Council of States or the Rajya Sabha) 12 members are to be nominated by the President. He is also empowered to nominate up to two Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha in case the community is not adequately represented.
Right to Laying Reports
It is the duty of the President to cause to be laid before Parliament certain reports like that of the Auditor General relating to the accounts of the Government of India. Similarly report of the Auditor General, recommendations of the Finance Commission and the Union Public service Commission, etc. have to be laid before the Parliament.
Prior Sanction to Legislation
The Constitution requires prior sanction/recommendation of the President in respect of the following:
i. Bill for formation of new States or alteration of boundaries, Money Bills.
ii. Bill that would involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. Bill affecting taxation in which States are interested.
Assent to Legislation
Every Bill passed by the two Houses of the Parliament is presented before the President for his assent. He may declare his assent or return the Bill for reconsideration (Money Bills cannot be returned). If the Bill sent for reconsideration is passed by the Houses without any amendment and resubmitted for President’s assent, it is obligatory on the part of the President to give his assent to it.
There is no time limit as to for how long can the President keep with him a Bill passed by both Houses and sent for his assent. He may keep it for an indefinite period on his desk. A Bill reserved for the consent of the President has no legal effect until the President declares his assent and the provisions have been notified in the Government Gazette.
Ordinance making power
The President has the power to legislate by Ordinance at a time when it is not possible to have a parliamentary enactment on the subject immediately. An Ordinance however cannot contravene the Fundamental Rights.
The power is to be exercised on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The Ordinance must be laid before Parliament when it re-assembles and automatically ceases to have effect at the expiry of six weeks from the date of reassembly.
The President has the power to proclaim emergency if he is satisfied that there is a danger to the security of the country due to external aggression or armed rebellion. The Proclamation of emergency has to be approved by the Parliament within one month.
The Proclamation remains effective for six months and can be extended by resolution by both Houses of the Parliament. During the period of emergency, the President remains the administrator for the whole country. The Parliament acquires powers to make laws even on the subjects that are in the State Lists.
A Financial Emergency can be proclaimed if the President is satisfied that the financial stability of the country is threatened. During such emergency the salaries of all government servants can be reduced.
The President can proclaim President’s rule in a State on the recommendation of the Governor if he is satisfied that the constitutional machinery of a state has broken down. Under such emergency the Governor of the state administers on his behalf. The President has power to suspend the provision of the Constitution relating to any authority of the state excepting those relating to the High Court.
While the Constitution makes the President a Constitutional head, he still retains a number of discretionary powers. He can use his discretion in the appointment of the Prime Minister in case no single party commands an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha.
The Pardoning power
As Head of the Executive, the President has powers to grant pardon to persons who have been tried and convicted of some offence. Besides these the President also has a number of miscellaneous powers which may be said to be residuary n nature.