- Article 60 of the Indian Constitution defines the powers and functions of the President of India, who is the head of the state and the first citizen of the country.
- In this article, we will delve into the key responsibilities and duties vested in the President and understand their significance in the Indian political system.
Eligibility Criteria for the President
- The eligibility criteria for the President are outlined in Article 58 of the Indian Constitution. To be eligible for the office, a candidate must be:
- A citizen of India
- At least 35 years of age
- Qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha (House of the People)
Process of Election
- The President of India is elected indirectly by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union territories.
- The election process is carried out by the Election Commission of India.
Term of Office
- The President holds office for a term of five years.
- However, there is no limit on the number of terms a person can serve as President.
- Article 56 of the Indian Constitution deals with the term of office and related matters.
Executive Powers of the President
Appointment of Prime Minister
- The President appoints the Prime Minister, the head of the government, who is usually the leader of the majority party in the Lok Sabha.
Council of Ministers
- On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other ministers.
- The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
- The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces and exercises control over the defense forces.
- During times of emergency, the President can declare three types of emergencies:
Legislative Powers of the President
Summoning and Proroguing the Parliament
- The President summons and prorogues both houses of Parliament and dissolves the Lok Sabha.
Addressing the Parliament
- The President addresses the first session of both houses after each general election.
Ordinance Making Power
- The President can promulgate ordinances when Parliament is not in session.
Assent to Bills
- The President gives his/her assent to bills passed by Parliament, making them into laws.
Judicial Powers of the President
- The President has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment to individuals convicted of certain offenses.
Appointment of Judges
- The President appoints the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Diplomatic Powers of the President
- The President represents India in international affairs and appoints ambassadors to foreign countries.
Signing Treaties and Agreements
- The President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, enters into treaties and agreements with foreign nations.
- Article 352 empowers the President to declare a National Emergency in case of threats to the security of the country, either from external aggression or armed rebellion.
- Article 356 allows the President to impose President’s Rule in a state if the constitutional machinery has failed.
- Article 360 empowers the President to declare a Financial Emergency in case of a threat to the financial stability of India.
Article 56: Re-eligibility of the President
- Article 56 of the Indian Constitution addresses the re-eligibility of the President.
- According to this article, a President can be re-elected for a second term in office.
- This provision was incorporated to recognize the possibility that a President’s effective leadership might warrant their continuation for another term.
- However, it is essential to remember that a President can only serve a maximum of two terms in office.
- After two terms, they are ineligible for re-election, ensuring that the office of the President remains open to new candidates and upholds the democratic principle of rotation of power.
Role as the Guardian of the Constitution
- Another crucial aspect of the President’s role, as envisioned in the Constitution, is that of being the guardian of the Constitution.
- The President is duty-bound to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution and its values.
Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding Article 60
- As with any constitutional provision, Article 60 has faced criticisms and controversies over the years.
Ambiguity in Certain Provisions
- Some provisions of Article 60 have been criticized for being vague and open to interpretation, leading to potential conflicts.
Misuse of Presidential Powers
- Instances of misuse of presidential powers have raised concerns about the need for checks and balances.
Calls for Amendment
- Various experts and scholars have called for amendments to strengthen or modify certain aspects of Article 60 to better suit the evolving needs of the nation.
- Article 60 of the Indian Constitution delineates the powers and functions of the President of India, highlighting their significant role in the nation’s governance and administration.
- By ensuring a democratic and transparent process for the appointment of the President and defining the limits of their powers, the Indian Constitution maintains a fine balance of authority between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches.
- The President’s position is a symbol of unity, a custodian of the Constitution, and a representative of the collective will of the people of India.
- As the highest constitutional office, the President plays a crucial role in upholding the democratic values and ensuring the smooth functioning of the Indian democracy.