Judicial
Image Source - https://rb.gy/cousaq

This article is written by Oishika Banerji of Amity Law School, Kolkata. The article deals with a detailed discussion concerning the Vice President of India.  

Introduction 

The position of a Vice President in a nation is not only noteworthy but also requires a discussion as the Vice President holds the second-highest office in a country right after the President. After adopting the concept of Vice President from the Americans, the Indian Constitution framers laid down provisions for the Vice President under Article 63 which mandates the position of a Vice President of India. This esteemed position received its first holder as Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who served for the term of ten years ( May 13, 1952- May 12, 1962) and is currently embraced by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu who continues serving the position as the 13th Vice President of independent India (11th August 2017- present). This article will help the reader acquire relevant information concerning the Vice President of India which includes the process of election, term of office, powers, functions, and qualification. 

The necessary information concerning the Vice President that one needs to know 

Hereunder the reader will be able to understand the basic information surrounding the Vice President of India. 

Election of the Vice President of India 

Section 2(h) of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952 provides the definition of “Vice-Presidential election” which means “an election to fill the office of the Vice President of India”. Article 66 of the Constitution of India, 1950 provides the provision for the election and eligibility of the Vice President. Just like the President of India, the Vice President is also elected through the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote which symbolizes an indirect election. The only difference between the Presidential election with that of the Vice President’s is the composition of the electoral college as provided hereunder;

  1. The electoral college comprises both elected and nominated members of both Houses of the Parliament (in the President’s election, only elected members constitute the electoral college).
  2. The electoral college does not include the members belonging to the State Legislative Assemblies (the elected State Legislative Assemblies members are inclusive in the electoral college composed for the President’s election).

It is to be noted that Section 9 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952 prescribes the manner of the voting at the elections which is “votes shall be given by ballot in such manner as may be prescribed, and no votes shall be received by proxy”. Therefore, voting at the Vice President’s election has to be mandatorily carried out by a secret ballot. After the election takes place followed by result declaration, the Returning Officer shall report the same to both the Central Government and the Election Commission. The Central Government shall be publishing the same in the Official Gazette with the declaration containing the name of the person who has been elected to the President or Vice President’s office as the case may be. 

One cannot ignore the aspect of election disputes which is a common sight in India. Part II of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952 concerns disputes regarding elections. Section 17 of the Act mandates that any dispute or confusion arising in connection with the Vice President’s election is to be inquired into and decided solely by the Supreme Court of India whose decision will be perceived to be final. 

Qualifications that the Vice President must abide by

Article 66 (3) of the Indian Constitution provides three prerequisites for qualifying to the position of the Vice President of independent India namely;

  1. The person shall be an Indian citizen;
  2. The individual must have completed thirty-five years of age;
  3. The person must be qualified for the election as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the Council of States. 

Alongside these three criteria, Article 66(2) provides the limitation for the Vice President that he shall not be a member of either Parliament Houses or the State Legislature at the time when he is holding the Vice President’s office. Furthermore, a sitting President or Vice President of the Union followed by the Governor of a state or a Union Minister or State Minister who is not holding any position from where they can earn profit will qualify for being a candidate to contest for the Vice President’s position. A security deposit of Rs 15,000 is to be made in the Reserve Bank of India by the candidates contesting for the position of Vice President of India. Therefore, to summarize the two conditions for holding the office of the Vice President are provided hereunder;

  1. An individual must not be a member of either House of Parliament or a House of the State Legislature at the time of appointment as the Vice-President. 
  2. An individual should not be holding any other office yielding profit.

Oath or affirmation 

Article 69 of the Constitution of India, 1950 lays down the provision for oath or affirmation by the VicePresident. The purpose behind such swearing is to ensure and obligate the Vice President of India to deliver duties, and functions that are allotted to him efficiently. While swearing before the President, or some other person appointed by the President on his behalf, the Vice President swears the following;

  1. To bear true faith and allegiance to the Indian Constitution; and
  2. To discharge the duties vested on his office faithfully.

Term and vacancy of the office 

The provision for the term of office of the Vice President is embedded under Article 67 of the Indian Constitution which provides a five years term for the Vice President from the date of him entering his office. Further, Article 68(1) provides that the vacancy of the Vice President’s office must be filed before the expiration of the term of the previous Vice President thereby deleting the scope for keeping the office vacant. Article 68 (2) walking in line with Article 67 states that if the office of the Vice President is vacated on grounds of death, resignation by submitting a resignation letter to the President of India,  impeachment, or removal, which in many cases does not need to be in the form of impeachment as also the Constitution does not expressly talk about it, the election for the next Vice President should be completed without further delay who when elected will be holding the office again for a term of five years.

Removal of the Vice President

With a monthly salary of Rs 1,25,000 and a pension of Rs 62,500 (50% of the salary), the Vice President of India can be removed by the Council of States by means of a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority and accepted by the Lok Sabha. The first Vice President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan held the Vice President’s office for a term of ten years consecutively because of his re-election. Drawing from this, it can be said that a Vice President is eligible for being re-elected any number of times to the office. 

Powers and functions of the Vice President of India 

The Vice President’s function has been designed in a two-fold form namely;

  1. Article 64 of the Constitution of India; which lays down that “The Vice President shall be ex officio Chairman of the Council of the States and shall not hold any other office of profit.”
  2. Article 65 of the Constitution of India provides the following;
  • The Vice President shall be acting as the President of India if there is an occurrence of circumstances of death, removal, or resignation, or any other reasons which have led to vacating of the President’s office, for a period of six months only within which a new President has to be elected.
  • When the President fails to discharge his functions on grounds of absence, illness, or any other cause then it is the Vice President who shall be discharging his functions on the President’s behalf until the President resumes his/her office.
  1. Article 70; which provides the provision for the discharge of the President’s functions in other contingencies meaning that the Vice President shall be eligible to discharge all other functions belonging to the President which are not expressly mentioned under Chapter 1 Part V of the Indian Constitution. 

It is to be noted that Article 65 (3) talks about the powers of the Vice President which it can exercise while wearing the skin of the President of the nation. In doing so, the Vice President will be qualified for all such emoluments, privileges, and allowances as having been determined by the Act of the Parliament which the President is entitled to.

A list of interesting facts about the Vice President of India

After gathering information about the office of the Vice President of India, it is now necessary for the readers to learn some interesting facts concerning the Vice President of India which are provided hereunder;

  1. Since 1952 when the first Lok Sabha was formed, India has been served by 13 Vice Presidents with Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu currently holding the office.  
  2. Among these 13 Vice Presidents, only 7 were elevated to the position of the President of India. 
  3. Among these 13 Vice Presidents, there are two Vice Presidents who have served the country twice, namely Dr. S Radhakrishnan and Hamid Ansari. 
  4. The first Vice President of India who has been well-known as a scholar, philosopher, teacher, and has been the representative from India at UNESCO is Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. 
  5. Zakir Hussain who served as the 2nd Vice President of independent India is also recognized as the co-founder and Chancellor of the national Muslim University, Jamia Milia Islamia.
  6. The preconceived notion that the position of Vice President of India can be held only by the politicians was scrapped down when Vice Presidents K.R. Narayan and Hamid Ansari both having a background of bureaucracy, were appointed to the office. Gopal Swarup Pathak, Mohammad Hidayatullah, R Venkatraman were lawyers by profession who had acquired the Vice President’s office. 
  7. It is interesting to take into account that the only Vice President of India who got married to an individual with a foreign national was K.R. Narayan. 
  8. Shankar Dayal Sharma is the only Vice President of India who has worked as a Chief Minister, Cabinet Minister, and President of INC (Indian National Congress).
  9. While Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has been the only Vice-President of India who belonged to Bharatiya Janata Party and fought for the President’s post with an eventual loss against Smt. Pratibha Patil, the Vice Presidents who came from the Congress background were V V Giri, B D Jatti, Shankar Dayal Sharma, R Venkatraman, and Krishan Kant.
  10. India has received Vice Presidents who served the country with a non-political background namely Dr. S Radhakrishnan, Mohammad Hidayatullah, Gopal Swarup Pathak, and Zakir Hussain.
  11. R Venkatraman was the only Vice President of India who was a Hon’ble member of the Constituent Assembly responsible for giving birth to the Constitution of India. 

A comparison between the Indian and American Vice Presidents

As has been discussed previously, the concept of Vice President was adopted by India from the Americans, and thus a comparison between the Vice Presidents of India, and America stands necessary. The broad ground of comparison is the Succession to Presidentship in both nations. In the case of America, the Vice President is the successor of the President whenever the office of the President falls vacant for an unexpired term. On the other hand, in India, the Vice President can remain an acting President for 6 months only. This reflects on the fact that the powers vested on the Vice President of America are wider as compared to India’s Vice President thereby making it clear that the relevance of the Vice President’s position in India is minimal. 

Conclusion 

The Constitution of India, 1950 has not specifically facilitated the Vice President’s position with specific functions; instead, it has made it clear that the Vice President has to behave as a tail to the President of India. But, this unfamous position has significance in maintaining the political continuity of the democratic nation. Therefore, the position of the Vice President of India stands infamously famous. 

References 


Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals, and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:

https://t.me/joinchat/J_0YrBa4IBSHdpuTfQO_sA

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here