The Constitution of India provides for a Vice-President whose role in the Government is comparatively insignificant. This office is sometimes compared with the office of the American Vice-President who is addressed as “His Superfluous Highness” for his meaningless presence in the administrative and constitutional set up. The office of the Vice President in India created under Article 63 provides for a responsible and experienced person to work as President temporarily when the latter is not in a position to function because of certain contingencies like resignation, death, impeachment, long absence an etc.
The Vice President is elected indirectly by an electoral college consisting of the members of both the Houses of Parliament. The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote by secret ballot. All disputes regarding the election of the Vice President are settled by the Supreme Court.
A candidate for the office of the Vice President must be an Indian citizen. He should be thirty five years of age or more. He must be qualified for election to Rajya Sabha. The members of the Parliament or State Legislative Assembly cannot be Vice-President of India. If a member of either Parliament or any State Legislative is elected to the August office he has to resign his membership before assuming the office.
The Vice President holds office for five years from the date on which he enters upon his office, of course, if he does not resign earlier. The resolution to impeach the Vice-President can only be initiated in the Rajya Sabha. Such a motion must be passed by the majority members of Rajya Sabha and agreed upon by the majority members in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has to serve a notice to the Vice President of India 14 days before moving such a resolution. Rajya Sabha has been given this exclusive power to initiate the motion of impeachment of the vice-president who happens to be its presiding officer or chairman. He receives his salary as chairman of Rajya Sabha not as vice- president.
The vice-president is known as the President in-waiting. Because he takes over the office of the President for a period of six months at best whenever the office falls vacant by reason of his death, resignation or impeachment. Election to the office must be conducted within six months from the date of vacancy. When he acts as the President of India he enjoys all the powers, privileges and immunities of the President. He also receives the salary and allowance as determined for the President of India.
Besides acting as the President of India in his absence another important function of the Vice-President is to act as the Chairman of the Council of States and as such he is comparable with the speaker of Lok Sabha, Enjoying the same honour and the powers. He may travel to foreign countries as the representative of the President to represent India on in any matters of neighbourly relations.
The office of the Vice-President of India has been one of great honour and prestige. Eminent person of great stature have been occupying this second highest office of the country since independence. Usually the incumbents this office are elevated to the office of the President, though not as a matter of Principle.