What is Impeachment and how does it really work?

Impeachment is the constitutional method for removing presidents, judges, and other federal officers who commit “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,”

Impeachment is the process of accusation against crime in which a legislative body presents a charge against the running government official. This Impeachment does not in itself remove the official definitively from office, but it is similar to an indictment in criminal law, and therefore it is essentially the statement of charges against the official. Different Countries have different procedures, in some countries the individual is provisionally removed, and in others, they can remain in office during the trial. Once an individual impeached, then he must face the possibility of conviction on the charges by a legislative voting process, which is separate from the impeachment, but it flows from it, and a judgment is given which convicts the official on the articles of impeachment entails the official’s definitive removal from office.

Impeachment exists under constitutional law in many countries around the world, including Brazil, France, India, Ireland, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

Impeachment was first used by the English “Good Parliament” against Baron Latimer in the second half of the 14th century. Following the British example, the constitutions of Virginia (1776), Massachusetts (1780) and other states thereafter adopted the impeachment mechanism, but they restricted the punishment to the removal of the official from office.

Impeachment is conducted in two stages. It starts with proceedings in the House of Representatives. In this stage, the Framers’ belief that impeachment should be a public inquiry into charges against an official, and then it involves fact-finding at hearings. After accumulating all the pieces of evidence, the House votes on whether or not to impeach. Any vote against impeachment ends the process. If a vote to impeached then to goes to the second stage called the adoption of the Articles of Impeachment. Each article is a formal charge with conviction on any one article being sufficient for removal. The case is then sent to the Senate, which organizes the matter for trial. During the trial, there is a unique rule that the Senate follows in which there is no jury, and for the final convict, a two-thirds majority is needed.

In India, the president and judges, including the chief justice of the supreme court and high courts, can be impeached by the parliament before the expiry of the term for violation of the Constitution. Other than impeachment, no other penalty can be given to a president in position for the violation of the Constitution under Article 361 of the constitution. However, a president after his/her term/removal can be punished for his already proven unlawful activity under disrespecting the constitution. No president has faced impeachment proceedings. Hence, the provisions for impeachment in India have never been tested. The sitting president cannot be charged and needs to step down in order for that to happen.


2 thoughts on “What is Impeachment and how does it really work?

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