Presidents of India

India follows a parliamentary system of government, where the President is the ceremonial head of the state, and the Prime Minister is the head of the government. The President’s role is largely symbolic and is defined by the Constitution of India.


History of the Post of President in India 

  1. Pre-independence Era: Before gaining independence from British colonial rule, India was not a sovereign state but a collection of princely states and British-administered territories. The British Crown appointed a Governor-General as the head of the government. The Governor-General represented the British monarch and exercised executive authority.
  2. Constitutional Assembly and the Constitution: After India gained independence on August 15, 1947, the country began the process of drafting its Constitution. A Constituent Assembly was formed to create a framework for the new Republic of India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, a prominent freedom fighter and a member of the Constituent Assembly, became the first temporary President of India in 1947.
  3. Adoption of the Constitution: The Constitution of India was adopted on January 26, 1950. This date is now celebrated as Republic Day, marking the transformation of India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India on this historic day and went on to serve two terms as President.
  4. Role and Powers Defined: The Constitution of India established a parliamentary system of government, with the President as the head of the state and the Prime Minister as the head of the government. The President’s role and powers were defined in detail, including the appointment and removal of the Prime Minister, dissolution of the Lok Sabha, granting pardons, and more.

Some key details about the post of President in India

  1. Eligibility: To be eligible for the post of President, a person must fulfill the following criteria:
    • Be a citizen of India.
    • Be at least 35 years of age.
    • Be qualified to become a member of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), the lower house of the Indian Parliament.
  2. Election Process: The President is elected indirectly by an Electoral College comprising the elected members of both houses of Parliament (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of India’s states and union territories. The value of the vote of each elector is determined based on the population they represent.
  3. Term of Office: The President’s term of office is five years. However, a President may resign from office or can be removed through impeachment before the completion of their term.
  4. Powers and Functions: The President’s powers and functions can be broadly categorized as follows:
    • Executive Powers: The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the political party or coalition with the majority in the Lok Sabha. The President also appoints other high-ranking officials, such as Governors of states, members of the Union Council of Ministers (on the advice of the Prime Minister), and various members of constitutional bodies.
    • Legislative Powers: The President summons and prorogues sessions of Parliament, and they also dissolve the Lok Sabha. All bills passed by Parliament require the President’s assent to become law.
    • Financial Powers: Money bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, and once they are passed by the Lok Sabha, they are sent to the President for their approval.
    • Diplomatic Powers: The President represents India in international affairs and receives foreign dignitaries.
    • Emergency Powers: In certain situations of crisis, the President can declare three types of emergencies – National Emergency, State Emergency (President’s Rule), and Financial Emergency.
  5. Impeachment: The President can be impeached by Parliament if they violate the Constitution. The process for impeachment involves the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passing a motion for the President’s removal with a special majority, followed by an inquiry by a committee of MPs, and then the impeachment resolution is voted upon.

List of all Presidents of India from 1950 till present

President Term of Office Description
Dr. Rajendra Prasad 26 Jan 1950 – 13 May 1962 India’s first president was inaugurated in 1884. Principal leader for Indian independence. Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1962.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 13 May 1962 – 13 May 1967 Philosopher and India’s first Vice President.
Dr. Zakir Hussain 13 May 1967 – 03 May 1969 Former Governor of Bihar, economist, and Vice President of India.
Varahagiri Venkatagiri 03 May 1969 – 20 Jul 1969 Interim President after Dr. Hussain’s death.
Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah 20 Jul 1969 – 24 Aug 1969 Previously Interim President, 11th Chief Justice of India.
Varahagiri Venkatagiri 24 Aug 1969 – 24 Aug 1974 Served full term as 4th President after acting as Interim President. Awarded Bharat Ratna in 1975.
Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed 24 Aug 1974 – 11 Feb 1977 5th President of India passed away during his term in office.
B.D. Jatti 11 Feb 1977 – 25 Jul 1977 Acting President after Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s passing.
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy 25 Jul 1977 – 25 Jul 1982 Speaker of the Lok Sabha, union minister, and first President to win uncontested.
Giani Zail Singh 25 Jul 1982 – 25 Jul 1987 7th President and former member of the Indian National Congress.
R. Venkataraman 25 Jul 1987 – 25 Jul 1992 8th President, previously a union minister and Indian lawyer.
Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma 25 Jul 1992 – 25 Jul 1997 9th President, former CM of Bhopal, and Cabinet Minister.
K.R. Narayanan 25 Jul 1997 – 25 Jul 2002 The 10th President won three straight general elections.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam 25 Jul 2002 – 25 Jul 2007 11th President, renowned aerospace scientist, ‘Missile Man of India.’
Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil 25 Jul 2007 – 25 Jul 2012 First woman President, previously served as Rajya Sabha’s deputy chairperson.
Shri Pranab Mukherjee 25 Jul 2012 – 25 Jul 2017 13th President, former Union finance minister, and Rajya Sabha speaker.
Shri Ram Nath Kovind 25 Jul 2017 – 21 Jul 2022 14th President, former governor of Bihar, and Rajya Sabha member.
Draupadi Murmu 21 Jul 2022 – Present Current 15th President of India, succeeding Shri Ram Nath Kovind.

Key constitutional articles related to the President of India:

  1. Article 52: This article states that there shall be a President of India. It defines the office of the President as the constitutional head of the country.
  2. Article 53: This article deals with the executive powers of the President. It states that the executive powers are vested in the President and are exercised by them either directly or through officers subordinate to them.
  3. Article 54: This article lays down the procedure for the election of the President. It states that the President shall be elected by an Electoral College, consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) and the Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union territories.
  4. Article 55: This article sets the method for the election of the President. It states that the election shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
  5. Article 56: This article specifies the term of office of the President. It states that the President shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which they enter upon their office.
  6. Article 57: This article deals with the eligibility for re-election of the President. It states that a person who has held the office of President is eligible for re-election to that office.
  7. Article 58: This article lays down the qualifications for the election as President. It states that a person shall not be eligible for election as President unless they are a citizen of India, have completed the age of 35 years, and are qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
  8. Article 59: This article deals with the conditions of the President’s office. It states that the President shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any State, and if they are a member of either House at the time of their election, they shall vacate that seat upon their election as President.
  9. Article 60: This article deals with the oath or affirmation by the President. It states that the President, before entering upon their office, shall make and subscribe an oath or affirmation in the presence of the Chief Justice of India or, in their absence, the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court.
  10. Article 61: This article deals with the procedure for the impeachment of the President. It states that the President can be impeached by Parliament for violation of the Constitution.
  11. Article 62: This article deals with the manner of the election of the President. It states that all doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with the election of the President shall be inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court.
  12. Article 72: This article deals with the power of the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense.

Few important facts about the Presidents of India

  1. Dr. Rajendra Prasad held the position of Indian President for the longest duration, completing two consecutive terms in office.
  2. The third President of India, Zakir Hussain, had the shortest tenure as he passed away during his time in office.
  3. In addition to the regular full-time Presidents mentioned in the table above, there were three interim Presidents: Varahagiri Venkata Giri, Mohammad Hidayatullah, and Basappa Danappa Jatti.
  4. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, apart from being the youngest President of India, also served as the first Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
  5. Pratibha Patil holds the distinction of being the first and only female President of India.
  6. Should the President of India wish to resign from their post, they must follow the procedure prescribed in Article 61 of the Indian Constitution. The resignation is submitted in the form of a handwritten letter to the Vice President.
  7. The President is elected by members of both the Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the legislative assemblies of States and Union Territories.


How many presidents have been there in India?

Since the adoption of the Indian constitution, there have been 15 presidents of India. In addition to these fifteen, there have been three acting presidents who have been in the role for brief durations.

Who is longest serving President of India?

The first president of India, Dr.Rajendra Prasad is the longest-serving president of India from 1950 to 1962.

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