In an unprecedented move, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached former President Trump for the second time in relation to his role in the Capitol Hill riots. The Senate is yet to commence trial proceedings against former President Trump, who has already left office after losing the 2020 Presidential elections. You might be wondering: why should the Senate spend time and resources on impeaching a President who is no longer in office, apart from making a symbolic statement? If the goal was to remove him from office, isn’t impeachment then pointless?
Under the U.S. Constitution, impeachment is not merely the removal of an individual from office. Impeachment also places restrictions on the future political and public life of an impeached President. This is why the US legislature is keen on impeaching Donald Trump.
Article 1, Section 3 of the American Constitution gives the Senate the power to both remove from office and disqualify the President from holding “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States” if such President is convicted.
Our Constitution framers had considered including a similar clause while debating Draft Article 50 (Article 61, Constitution of India 1950). Kazi Syed Karimuddin proposed an amendment to disqualify a President holding "any office of honour, trust or profit under the Indian Union" if the impeachment is successful. Notice, this was an exact copy of the U.S. Constitution.
B.R Ambedkar opposed Karimuddin’s proposal for two reasons: first, an impeached person would have been shamed in the form of a public trial and they would not even consider a public role anymore; and second, the people will not elect a person who has been convicted of breach of trust and failed to perform their public duties. At the end of the discussion, the Constituent Assembly rejected Karimuddin’s amendment.
So, our Constitution framers decided to trust the electorate with ensuring that an impeached President would never be elected to public office. Would this have worked in the American context, particularly in the case of Trump?
- Impeaching the President of India: Some Constitution Framers wanted to adopt the American System (Part 1)
- Impeaching the President of India: Some Constitution Framers wanted to adopt the American System (Part 2)
Debate Summary: Article 61, Constitution of India (1950)