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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Explained: How the Vice President of India is elected, what the Constitution says about the post

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is the NDA's candidate to succeed M Venkaiah Naidu. The Opposition has fielded Margaret Alva for the election scheduled for August 6.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 6, 2022 6:55:52 am
The Vice Presidential election is scheduled for August 6, and July 19 is the last date for filing nominations.

The opposition on Sunday (July 17) named former Governor and former union minister Margaret Alva as its candidate for Vice President. The ruling NDA has announced West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will be its candidate for the post.

The election is scheduled for August 6 — even though it is likely to be only symbolic, given the NDA’s clear majority in Parliament. Dhankhar is expected to succeed Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu whose term of office comes to an end on August 10.

Office of the Vice President

Article 63 of the Constitution states that “there shall be a Vice-President of India”. Under Article 64, the Vice-President “shall be ex officio Chairman of the Council of the States” (Rajya Sabha).

Article 65 says that “in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the President by reason of his death, resignation or removal, or otherwise, the Vice-President shall act as President until the date on which a new President…enters upon his office”.

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The Vice-President shall also discharge the functions of the President when the latter is unable to do so “owing to absence, illness or any other cause”.

During this period, the Vice-President shall “have all the powers and immunities of the President and be entitled to… (the) emoluments, allowances and privileges” that are due to the President. The office of the Vice-President of India is the second-highest constitutional office after that of the President, and ranks second in the order of precedence.

Election of the Vice-President

Article 66 lays down the process of the election of the Vice-President.

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It says the Vice-President “shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot”.

For the 16th Vice-Presidential Election, 2022, the Electoral College consists of 233 elected members of Rajya Sabha, 12 nominated members of Rajya Sabha, and 543 elected members of Lok Sabha, adding up to 788 members. In the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, the elector has to mark preferences against the names of the candidates.

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“Preference can be marked in the international form of Indian numerals, in Roman form, or in the form in any recognised Indian languages… The elector can mark as many preferences as the number of candidates. While the marking of the first preference is compulsory for the ballot paper to be valid, other preferences are optional,” the Election Commission of India said in a release issued on June 29.

Under the Constitution, the Vice-President “shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any State”. If a member of any of these Houses is elected to the post, “he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as Vice-President”.

Eligibility and term of office

Article 66(3) says “No person shall be eligible for election as Vice-President unless he — (a) is a citizen of India; (b) has completed the age of thirty-five years; and (c) is qualified for election as a member of the Council of States”.

Under Article 66(4), “A person shall not be eligible for election as Vice-President if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments.”

Article 67 lays down that the “Vice-President shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office”. However, the Vice-President “shall, notwithstanding the expiration of his term, continue to hold office until his successor enters upon his office”.

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The Vice-President may leave office before the end of his term by resigning to the President, or he “may be removed…by a resolution of the Council of States passed by a majority of all the then members of the Council and agreed to by the House of the People”.

What if the election is disputed?

Article 71 of the Constitution deals with “Matters relating to, or connected with, the election of a President or Vice-President”. It says that “all doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with the election of a President or Vice-President shall be inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court whose decision shall be final”.

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Should the Supreme Court declare the election of the President or Vice-President void however, “acts done by him in the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of the office of President or Vice-President,…on or before the date of the decision of the Supreme Court shall not be invalidated by reason of that declaration”.

Also, “Parliament may by law regulate any matter relating to or connected with the election of a President or Vice-President”.

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First published on: 06-07-2022 at 08:18:46 pm
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