President Impeachment in USA and India – UPSC Prelims

Impeachment of President in USA:
  • Two Houses: The legislature of the United States of America i.e. Congress of the United States consists of two houses:
    • The Senate, in which each state, regardless of its size, is represented by two senators.
    • House of Representatives, to which members are elected on the basis of population.
  • Reasons for Impeachment: The USA Constitution states that the President can be removed for conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanour.
  • Earlier Impeachments:
    • Three USA Presidents, Trump in 2019, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868, previously were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
    • Thus, no USA President ever has been removed from office through impeachment.
  • Procedure for Impeachment:
    • Any member of the House of Representatives can introduce a resolution of impeachment if they suspect the President is guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.
    • The House of Representatives considers the set of charges. If a simple majority (51%) support impeachment, the process moves to trial.
    • The Trial begins: The Chief Justice of the SC presides over it, while members of the House form the prosecution and Senators act as the jury. The President can appoint defence lawyers.
    • At the end of the trial, a Senate vote delivers the outcome. If at least two-third (67%) of Senators find the President guilty, he is removed from office and the Vice President takes over for the remainder of the term.
Impeachment of President in India:
  • Article 61: In India, the President can be removed only for ‘violation of the Constitution’ and the Constitution does not define the meaning of the phrase ‘violation of the Constitution’.
  • The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament – Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
  • Procedure for Impeachment of President of India (Article 61)
    • The President can be removed from office by a process of impeachment for “violation of the Constitution”. The impeachment charges can be initiated by either House of Parliament.
    • These charges should be signed by one-fourth members of the House (that framed the charges), and a 14 days notice should be given to the President.
    • After the impeachment resolution is passed by a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of that House, it is sent to the other House, which investigates the charges.
    • If the other House also passes the impeachment resolution by a majority of two-thirds of the  total membership, then the President stands impeached from his office from the date on which the resolution is so passed.
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