TERM, IMPEACHMENT AND VACANCY
Term of President’s office
The President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the Vice- President. Further, he can also be removed from the office before completion of his term by the process of impeachment.
The President can hold office beyond his term of five years until his successor assumes charge. He is also eligible for re-election to that office. He may be elected for any number of terms. However, in USA, a person cannot be elected to the office of the President more than twice.
Impeachment of President
The President can be removed from office by a process of impeachment for ‘violation of the Constitution’. However, the Constitution does not define the meaning of the phrase ‘violation of the Constitution’.
The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament. These charges should be signed by one-fourth members of the House (that framed the charges), and a 14 days’ notice should be given to the President. After the impeachment resolution is passed by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of that House, it is sent to the other House, which should investigate the charges. The President has the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation. If the other House also sustains the charges and passes the impeachment resolution by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership, then the President stands removed from his office from the date on which the bill is so passed.
Thus, an impeachment is a quasi-judicial procedure in the Parliament. In this context, two things should be noted: (a) the nominated members of either House of Parliament can participate in the impeachment of the President though they do not participate in his election; (b) the elected members of the legislative assemblies of states and the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the impeachment of the President though they participate in his election. No President has so far been impeached.
Vacancy in the President’s Office
A vacancy in the President’s office can occur in any of the following ways:
1. On the expiry of his tenure of five years.
2. By his resignation.
3. On his removal by the process of impeachment.
4. By his death
5. Otherwise, for example, when he becomes disqualified to hold office or when his election is declared void.
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 held before the expiration of the term. In case of any delay in conducting the election of new President by any reason, the outgoing President continues to hold office (beyond his term of five years) until his successor assumes charge. This is provided by the Constitution in order to prevent an ‘interregnum’. In this situation, the Vice-President does not get the opportunity to act as President or to discharge the functions of the President.
If the office falls vacant by resignation, removal, death or otherwise, then election to fill the vacancy should be held within six months from the date of the occurrence of such a vacancy. The newly elected President remains in office for a full term of five years from the date he assumes charge of his office.
When a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the Vice-President acts as the President until a new President is elected. Further, when the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office. In case the office of Vice-President is vacant, the Chief Justice of India (or if his office is also vacant, the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court available) acts as the President or discharges the functions of the President.
When any person, ie, Vice-President, chief justice of India, or the senior most judge of the Supreme Court is acting as the President or discharging the functions of the President, he enjoys all the powers and immunities of the President and is entitled to such emoluments, allowances and privileges as are determined by the Parliament.