GK Articles

Part 5: Union (Article 52-151)

The President

  • Executive head of the State and the first citizen of India.
  • Qualifications: Must be a citizen of India; of 35 years in age; eligible to be a member of the Lok Sabha and must not hold any office of profit.
  • Election: Indirectly elected through Electoral College consisting of elected members of both the houses of the Parliament and elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
  • Supreme Court decides all disputes regarding President’s election.
  • Tenure: The term is 5 years though there is no upper limit on the number of times a person can become the President. He can give resignation to the Vice-President before the full term.
  • The salary of the President is Rs. 1,50,000 per month.
  • In case the office of the President falls vacant due to death, resignation or removal, the Vice-President acts as the President. If he is not available then the Chief Justice of India, if not then the Senior most Judge of the Supreme Court shall act as the President of India.
  • The first and only President who died in the office was Dr. Zakir Hussain. He was also the President with the shortest tenure.
  • Impeachment Procedure:
    • It is a Quasi-judicial procedure. President can be impeached only on the grounds of violation of the Constitution. (Article 61)
    • The Impeachment Procedure can be initiated in either House of the Parliament.
  • Powers of President:
    • He is the formal head of the administration
    • The President shall have the power to appoint and remove high authorities like, the Prime Minister, other Ministers of the Union, Judges, Governors of States, appoints Chief of Army, Navy and Air Force. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
    • He appoints 12 members of special repute in the Rajya Sabha and 2 members in th eLok Sabha of the Anglo-Indian Community
    • He has the power of Pardon to a criminal in special cases.
    • Declares wars and concludes peace, subject to the approval of the Parliament
    • President has the Veto power
    • Under Article 72, the President has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remission of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted with death sentence.
  • Emergency Powers:
    • To declare National Emergency
    • To impose President Rule in a State.
    • To declare Financial Emergency.
    • Justice M Hidyutullah was the first Chief Justice of India to be appointed as the President.
    • Qualified Veto: Can be overridden by the Legislature with a higher majority
    • Suspensive Veto: Can be overridden by the Legislature with an ordinary majority
    • Pocket Veto: Delay in giving assent to the bill

* The Veto Power has been exercised only twice by Dr Rajendra Prasad

Vice-President

  • Article 63 of the Constitution stipulates a Vice-President for India
  • He is elected by both the Houses of Parliament.
  • The Vice-President is the Ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) as mentioned in the Article 64.
  • Present salary of the Vice-President of India is Rs. 1,25,000 per month.
  • The first Vice-President of India was Dr S Radhakrishnan.
  • The first and only Vice-President who died in the office was Shri Krishna Kant (1997- 2002).

Council of Ministers

  • Article 74 of the Constitution states that there shall be a Council of Ministers, with the Prime Minister as its head, to aid and advise the President.
  • The Ministers can be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister
  • A Minister must be a member of either House of Parliament or be elected within 6 months of assuming office
  • The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha, that is, a veto of no confidence even against a single minister means the entire Council must resign.

Prime Minister

  • The Prime Minister is the head of the Government and the head of the Council of Ministers.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the President on the basis of his being the leader of the majority party in th elok Sabha
  • If no party gets an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha or a Prime Minister resigns or dies, the President can use his own discretion in the choice of the Prime Minister.
  • The Prime Minister serves in the office for 5 years though he can be reappointed
  • When the Lok Sabha is dissolved, he can continue in office upon the request of the President.
  • If the Government is defeated in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet must resign, however, if defeated in the Rajya Sabha, resignation is not obligatory.

Tits-Bits:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister and the longest serving so far.
  • The first and the only acting Prime Minister was Gurzarilal Nanda
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first PM who died abroad, while in office at Takshent.
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh was the only PM who did not face the Parliament, while being in office
  • The youngest PM was Rajeev Gandhi and the oldest PM was Morarji Desai.
  • AB Vajpayee (May 1996-June 1996) government had the shortest tenure (13 days)

Union Legislature

  • Legislature of the Union is called the Parliament and consists of Rajya Sabha (Council of States) the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and the President.
  • The business of the Parliament is transacted either in Hindi or in English.

Rajya Sabha (Council of States)

  • The Rajya Sabha is the Upper House of the Parliament and the first sitting of the Rajya Sabha was held on 3rd April, 1952.
  • The maximum people strength of the Rajya Sabha is 250. Of these, 238 members are elected indirectly from the States and Union Territories, and 12 are nominated by the President for their expertise in art, literature, science and social services.
  • Currently the strength of the Rajya Sabha is 245. Of these, 233 are elected from States and Union Territories and 12 are nominated members.
  • The Rajya Sabha is a Permanent House and is not subject to dissolution and members enjoy a tenure of 6 years. One-third of the members retire every 2 years.
  • It shares Legislative powers with the Lok Sabha, except in the case of Money Bill, where the Lok Sabha has overriding powers.

Lok Sabha (People’s House)

  • The Lok Sabha is the Lower House of the Parliament and its first sitting took place on 13th May, 1952. The current Lok Sabha is the 16th Constituted Lok Sabha.
  • Three sessions of the Lok Sabha are held every year, namely Budget Session (FebMay); Monsoon Session (July-Sapt); and Winter Session (Nov-Dec).
  • Members: 530 from States, 20 from Union Territories and 2 nominated by the President, from the Anglo Indian Community.
  • Election: the representatives of the states are directly elected by the people of the states on the basis of adult suffrage.
  • Qualifications:
    • Citizen of India
    • At least 25 years of age for the Lok Sabha and 30 years of age for the Rajya Sabha; and
    • Possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by the Parliament.
  • Bills: It may be classified as Ordinary, Money, Financial and Constitutional Amendments.
  • The Ordinary Bills can be introduced in either House of the Parliament, but Money bill can be initiated only in the House of the People.
  • After a Money Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha for deliberations. The Rajya Sabha is given 14 days to make recommendations, which can be accepted or not by the Lok Sabha. Article 111 stipulates that a money bill cannot be returned to the House by the President for reconsideration.
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha: As soon as a new Lok Sabha is constituted, the President appoints a Speaker pro-tem, who is generally the senior most member of the House. A Deputy Speaker is also elected to officiate in the absence of the Speaker.

Facts About the Speaker

  • GV Mavlankar was the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha (1952-1956)
  • MA Ayyangar was the first Deputy Speaker (1952-1956)
  • Dr Balram Jakhar was the longest serving Speaker (1980-1989)
  • GMC Balyogi is the first Speaker to die in office
  • Meira Kumar is the first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha

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