What is the procedure of Electing the Vice-President of India?

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Article 63 of the constitution of India provides for a Vice-President of India. The Vice-President is a man of high prestige and dignity and he is also potentially powerful. In India, a majority of Vice-Presidents have later been elected as President and there is, therefore, a general belief that the Vice-President of today is the President of tomorrow.

This makes the post of Vice-President attractive. Very important persons like Dr. Sarbapalli Radhakrishnan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, V. V. Giri, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, Dr. K. R. Narayanan and Knshan Kant have held the post of Vice-President with distinction. Hamid Ansari, the present Vice-President, is an eminent personality. For many years he was in India's diplomatic service.

Qualifications

The person to be elected as the Vice-President of India must possess the following qualifications:

1. He must be an Indian citizen.

2. He must not be less than 35 years of age.

3. He must be eligible for being elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha.

4. He must not be holding any office of profit under the Government of India or the government of any state.

5. He must not be a convict of a Court of Law; he must not be an insolvent and must not be of unsound mind.

Tenure and Removal

The term of office of the Vice-President of India is 5 years. But he will continue to hold office until his successor assumes office.

The Vice-President can be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all its members and agreed to by the Lok Sabha. However, a resolution for this purpose can be moved after 14 days' notice has been served to that effect. So far, no Vice-President has been removed from office.

Emoluments

There is no salary for the Vice-President. But when he acts as the President of India, he draws the monthly emolument of the President. However, as the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, he is entitled to a monthly salary of Rs. 1, 25,000/- (Rs One Lakh and twenty five thousand only).

Election

The Vice-President, like the President of India, is elected indirectly. He is elected by an electoral college comprising both elected and nominated members of both Houses of Parliament by a system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote. The voting is done by secret ballot.

Before 1961, the MPs were required to elect the Vice-President in a joint session of the both Houses of the Parliament. But this provision of the joint sitting of both Houses to elect the Vice-President was dropped as a result of the Eleventh Constitutional Amendment Act of 1961.

Some critics point out that the Vice-President should be elected by the same Electoral College which elects the President of India. They argue that the Vice-President is required, when the occasion demands, to perform the functions of the President or to act as the President. This point was made in the Constituent Assembly itself. In a reply to this criticism, B.R. Ambedkar said that the President is the Head of the State, and his powers extend both to the administration by the centre as well as of the states.

But the normal function of the Vice- President is merely to preside over the Rajya Sabha meetings. It is only on a rare occasion and that too for a temporary period that he may be called upon to assume the duties of the President. On the ground of these differences in the powers and functions of the President and those of the Vice-President, Ambedkar defended separate systems of election for them.


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