The qualifications for the office of President are:
(i) should be a citizen of India
(ii) should have completed the age of 35 years
(iii) should be qualified to be elected as a member of Lok Sabha and
(iv) should not hold any office of profit i.e. the candidate should not be a government servant. However the office of the President, the Vice-President, the Governor or the Minister of the Union or the State is not considered as an office of profit for this purpose.
The President is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and of the State Legislative Assemblies (Vidhan Sabhas).
Nominated members of Parliament and members of State Legislative Councils are not members of the Electoral College.
The election is held by means of single transferable vote system of proportional representation. The voting is done by secret ballot.
Tenure and Removal:
The President is elected for a term of five years and is eligible for re-election, though a convention has developed that no President seeks election for the third term.
However, the first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected for two full terms.
He/she may resign before the expiry of his term, or the office of President may fall vacant due to his/her death. His term of office commences from the date he takes the oath of office.
Privileges and Immunities:
The President of India enjoys certain privileges and immunities which include the following:
1. The President is not answerable to any court of law for the exercise of his functions.
2. The President can neither be arrested nor any criminal proceedings be instituted
against him in any court of law during his tenure.
3. The President cannot be asked to be present in any court of law during his tenure.
4. A prior notice of two months time is to be served before instituting a civil case against
Removal of the President:
The President can only be removed from office through a process called impeachment. The Constitution lays down a detailed procedure for the impeachment of the President. He can only be impeached ‘for violation of the Constitution’. The following procedure is intentionally kept very difficult so that no President should be removed on flimsy ground.
The resolution to impeach the President can be moved in either House of Parliament. Such a resolution can be moved only after a notice has been given by at least one-fourth of the total number of members of the House. Such a resolution charging the President for violation of the Constitution must be passed by a majority of not less than two-third of the total membership of that House before it goes to the other House for investigation.
The charges levelled against the President are investigated by the second House. President has the right to be heard or defended when the charges against him are being investigated. The President may defend himself in person or through his counsel. If the charges are accepted by a two-third majority of the total membership of the second House, the impeachment succeeds. The President thus stands removed from the office from the date on which the resolution is passed.
This procedure of impeachment is even more difficult than the one adopted in America where only simple majority is required in the House of Representatives to initiate the proceedings.
IMPEACHMENT: An impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure leading to the removal of a high public official, say, the President as in India, on the grounds of the
violation of the Constitution.
Vacancy in the Office of the President:
Whenever the office of the President falls vacant either due to death or resignation or impeachment, the Vice-President officiates for a period not more than six months. The Constitution has made it obligatory that in such cases (of vacancy in the office of President) election for a new President must be held within six months. The newly elected President then holds office for his full term of five years. Thus, when President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad died in 1977, Vice-President B. D. Jatti officiated and the new President (Sanjeeva
Reddy) was elected within six months.
In case the President’s office falls vacant and the Vice-President is not available (or Vice-President acting as President dies or resigns in less than six months), the Chief Justice of India is required to officiate till the new President is elected. This provision was made in1969 by the Parliament to enable Chief Justice Hidayatullah to officiate when President Zakir Hussain had died, and Vice-President V. V. Giri resigned.
If a President is temporarily unable to discharge his duties, due to illness or otherwise, the Vice-President may discharge the functions of the President without officiating as the President.