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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
ARTICLE 57 Eligibility for re-election

The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.

57. "Eligibility for re-election. - A person who holds, or who has held, office as President shall, subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, be eligible for re-election to that office."

Definition of re-election

In simpler terms, the word "re-election' means when the candidate is re-elected for the same post for the next tenure. The process of re-election of President is very simple and not at all complicated. If the candidate has held the term without any difficulties then the candidate is eligible for the re-election and can be re-elected following the procedures of election.

Position of the President

The President, on the whole, has functioned as a constitutional head in the Indian Union. The working of the Constitution since 1950 conclusively established that the President was a figurehead while the Council of Ministers wielded the real executive power. There was not a single case when the President might have vetoed to a bill passed by two Houses or refused to accept ministerial advice on any point.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, made the position clear reportedly by asserting that the responsibility for any policy was entirely that of the Government which was responsible to the Parliament, which in turn was responsible to the people and that the President was a constitutional head who did not oppose or come in the way of anything.

India is lucky having had Late Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its first President. In the time span of 12 years (the best and the most suitable example of re-election) during which he occupied the Rashtrapati Bhawan, he displayed a sense of Constitutional and personal propriety which gave a good start to Parliamentary system and established a firm tradition of great values. He showed no inclination to exploit his immense popularity and prestige in order to set himself up as an independent focus of power. It is not that he did not have differences with the Prime Minister on important issues or that he did not press upon the Government what he considered to be the right cause of action. However, he functioned within the limitations of a constitutional Presidency. His successor, Dr. Radhakrishnan, followed the tradition set by Dr. Prasad, Dr. Zakir Hussain, V.V. Giri, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and even our present President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil were the personal choice of the Prime Minister and the Government who was in power and have been described as the PM Presidents. There have been many controversies between the President and the Prime Ministers who gave their own point of view on the authentic power of the President and every time the President was able to claim his position existable inspite of being called as only the figure head of the country.

The Presidential election is not free from difficulties. The architects of the Constitution intended an extensive electoral college as a necessary institutional pre-requisite for their own conception of the office. The Presidential constituency is wider than the constituencies meant for electing the members of the Union Parliament. It also does not embrace the entire national electorate. Being indirectly elected, the President is not likely to develop political ambitions so as to provide alternate political leadership. The nature of composition of the Presidential Electoral College has made him the golden thread of federal relationship. In the context of the recently-emerging federal trends of the Indian constitutional system and the radical changes in the political scene after 1967, the Presidential election is far reaching its importance and dignity and hence requires wider democratic perspective.

Ekta Gupta

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