Reviewed by Sep 30, 2020| Updated on
Impeachment is defined as an act of calling into question the integrity or validity of something. The term impeachment means the process followed in deciding the removal of a person in a position from exercising all the powers and responsibilities that the position demands. The entire process of removal is impeachment.
It usually applies to the President, judges of judicial courts, and other Constitutional positions. Across various nations having federal presidential Constitutional republic governments, impeachment refers to a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office.
In India, the impeachment is used in two contexts. 1. Impeachment of President of India 2. Impeachment of the Supreme Court Judge
Impeachment of the President
No president has so far faced impeachment proceedings. However, the procedure has been laid down by the law of the land. The President may be removed before his tenure through impeachment for violating the Constitution of India by the Parliament of India. The process may begin in either of the two houses of the Parliament.
A House starts by levelling charges against the President. The charges are present in a notice which must be signed by at least a quarter of the total members of that House. The notice is then sent up to the President and taken up for consideration after 14 days.
An impeachment resolution on the President must be made by a two-thirds majority (special majority) of the total members of the originating House, to be later sent to the other House. The other House conducts an investigation of the charges made.
Meanwhile, the President can defend himself through an authorised counsel. But if the second House also approves the charges levelled by a special majority, the President stands impeached. Consequently, he is deemed to have vacated his office from the date of passing the resolution.
In another instance, the Supreme Court inquires and decides disputes or ambiguities about the election of a President as per Article 71(1) of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court can remove the President for the electoral misconducts or upon becoming ineligible for Lok Sabha member as laid under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Impeachment of the Chief Justice of India/Judges
Article 124(4) of the Constitution of India lays down the procedure for impeachment of judges. A Judge of the Supreme Court must be removed from his office by order of the President. Such an order needs the approval of both the Houses of Parliament. It requires a special majority of members present and voting in the same session.
The grounds of impeachment are proven misbehaviour or incapacity. It is brought to light after the submission of notice to the speaker or chairman of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively. A committee of three jurists conducts a detailed investigation. They submit the report in the next session of both the Houses of Parliament.
Since the impeachment and conviction of officials involve an overturning of the routine constitutional procedures, they are usually reserved for those who have committed serious abuses of their office.