(1) When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament.

 

(2) No such charge shall be preferred unless—

 

(a) the proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after at least fourteen days' notice in writing signed by not less than one-fourth of the total number of members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and

 

(b) such resolution has been passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House.

 

(3) When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation.

 

(4) If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or caused to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.

Debate Summary

Article 50, Draft Constitution of India 1948

(1) When a President is to be impeached for violation of the Constitution, the charge shall be preferred by either House of Parliament.

(2) No such charge shall be preferred unless-

(a) The proposal to prefer such charge is contained in a resolution which has been moved after a notice in writing signed by not less than thirty members of the House has been given of their intention to move the resolution, and

(b) Such resolution has been supported by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House.

(3) When a charge has been so preferred by either House of Parliament, the other House shall investigate the charge or cause the charge to be investigated and the President shall have the right to appear and to be represented at such investigation.

(4) If as a result of the investigation a resolution is passed, supported by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the House by which the charge was investigated or caused to be investigated, declaring that the charge preferred against the President has been sustained, such resolution shall have the effect of removing the President from his office as from the date on which the resolution is so passed.

The Constituent Assembly took up Draft Article 50 (Article 61, Constitution of India) for debate on 28 December 1948. The Draft Article set out the procedure by which the President of India could be removed from office.

Clause 1 stated that impeachment proceedings could be initiated in either house of parliament. An amendment was moved to give this power to only the lower house, the Lok Sabha. The amendment’s mover argued that unlike the Upper house, Rajya Sabha, whose members were indirectly elected or nominated, the Lok Sabha was truly representative of the people; And this was important to consider in deciding the impeachment process.

Another member wanted the Chief Justice of Supreme Court to preside over the investigations into the charges framed against the President, similar to what was provided for in the American Constitution. To ensure impartiality, the member argued,  it was more appropriate for the Chief Justice to preside over the House’s proceedings, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. Further, the investigations would involve questions of fact, admissibility of evidence and other legal aspects which were best handled by a member of the judiciary, like the Chief justice.

There was also a proposal to replace the two-thirds majority required to pass an impeachment resolution with just a simple majority. The member who put forward this amendment felt that the two-thirds majority was against the spirit of democracy, was too stringent a criterion, and would make it hard to pass impeachment resolutions.

The Chairman of the Drafting Committee responded to all of the above amendments. On the first amendment, he argued that behaviour of the President is a matter of concern for lower and upper houses, and therefore it did not make sense to only allow the lower house to initiate impeachment proceedings. Second, he said that there was no problem in bringing in the Chief Justice to preside over investigations; This could be provided for in the Houses’ rules of procedure and was not necessary to include in the Constitution. On the third amendment, he argued that unlike a no-confidence motion, an impeachment motion would associate the President with shame, moral turpitude and ruination of the public career of the President. Therefore, it was necessary to set the high bar of a two-thirds majority to pass an impeachment motion.

The Draft Article was adopted with a minor amendment.