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Office of the Vice-President

Office of the Vice-President
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The Office of Vice-President provided for in the Indian Constitution was sourced from American Constitution which has a Presidential form of...

This article explains the provisions related to the office of the Vice-President enshrined in Part V, Articles 63 to 69 of the Constitution

The Office of Vice-President provided for in the Indian Constitution was sourced from American Constitution which has a Presidential form of Government. Though Indian Constitution opted for a Parliamentary form of Government, it included the Office of the Vice-President to ensure that the office of the President is immediately filled in case of a vacancy resulting from death, resignation or impeachment of the President.

Article 63 provides for the Office of the Vice-President. It states that there shall be a Vice-President of India.

Article 66 spells out the qualifications required to be elected to the office of the Vice-President. The following are the qualifications for the office of the Vice-President

  • He/She should be a citizen of India
  • He/She should have completed the age of 35 years
  • He/She should have qualified to be a member of Council of States
  • He/She should not hold any office of profit

The qualifications required for the office of the President and the office of the Vice-President are the same except that a person contesting for the Office of the President must be qualified to be a member of Lok Sabha whereas a person contesting for the Office of the Vice-President must be qualified to be a member of Rajya Sabha.

Article 66 also details the Electoral College for the Office of the Vice-President and the manner of election of the Vice-President. The Electoral College of the Vice-President will comprise all Members of Parliament, both nominated and elected. The difference between the electoral college of the President and the electoral college of the Vice President is – While the MLAs of the states do not participate in the elections to the Office of the Vice-President; the nominated members of the Parliament do not take part in the elections to the office of the President.

The Vice President of India is elected indirectly through the system of proportional representation by means of single transferrable vote. Originally the Constitution provided for the election of the Vice-President in a joint session. However, this provision was removed by the 11th Constitution Amendment Act – 1961.

Also a sitting Vice-President or Governor or a Member of Parliament or a Member of the State Legislative Council can contest in the election to the office of the Vice-President. However, his/her seat in the Assembly or Parliament will be deemed vacant from the date of him/her entering the office of the Vice-President.

Article 69 deals with the oath of office of the Vice-President and states that the Vice-President will be administered oath of office by the President of India.

Article 67 deals with the tenure of the Vice-President and states that the tenure of the Vice-President is five years. The Constitution does not specify the number of terms a person can serve as the Vice-President and therefore a sitting Vice-President is eligible for re-appointment. A vacancy in the office of the Vice-President can occur before the completion of the tenure on the following three grounds:

  • Death
  • Resignation – to be addressed to the President of India and in his absence to the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.
  • Removal – the Constitution does not mention any special procedure or grounds for the removal of the Vice-President.

However the Constitution specifies a procedure for removal of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha. A resolution to remove the Chairman of Rajya Sabha must be introduced in Rajya Sabha only. The resolution must be approved by a majority of the then members of the House which is the effective majority of the house (Effective majority is a majority of the total strength of the house after removing the number of vacancies). This resolution must then be approved by Lok Sabha with simple majority after which the Vice-President of India is removed.

In any of the above cases, the Constitution clearly mentions that a new Vice-President must be elected within a period of six months. Article 64 deals with the functions of the Vice-President. It states that the Vice-President will be the Ex-Officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

In other words, the Constitution does not assign any functions of the office of the Vice-President and clarifies that the Vice-President will perform the functions of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha and shall be paid a salary for the same i.e., he is not being paid salary for the office of the Vice-President but is paid a salary as the Ex-Officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

Article 65 deals with the functions of the Vice-President as the acting President during casual vacancies or absence in the office of the President and states that the Vice-President shall act as the President until a new President is appointed (in case of vacancy) or until the President resumes office (in case of absence). It also states that when the Vice-President performs the functions of the President becomes the acting President , he shall be entitled to such salary, allowances, powers, functions and immunities like that of the President.

By: Deepika Reddy

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