Article 63 of the Indian Constitution says that there shall be a Vice-President of India. He shall also be the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Article 64).
The following are the qualifications of the Vice President:
1. He must be a citizen of India
2. He must have completed 35 years of age.
3. It is compulsory for him to be registered as a voter in any Parliamentary Constituency.
4. Any office of profit under the Government of India, Government of any State, or any local or other authority subject to the control of the Government or State shall not be held by him.
5. He must be eligible for election to Rajya Sabha according to Article [66(3) (c)]
- If he holds any office of profit under the Central or State Government other than an office which does not disqualify its holder as declared by the Parliament.
- If a competent Court has declared him as a person with unsound mind.
- If he is an undischarged insolvent
- If he is not a citizen of India or has acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.
The Vice-President is elected by both the Houses of the Parliament at a Joint sitting. The procedure of secret ballot in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote is used.
Disputes regarding the Election
All the disputes regarding the election of Vice-President is inquired and decided by the Supreme Court. The decision of the Supreme Court is final (Article 71). According to Article 71(3) the Parliament may regulate any matter relating to the election of Vice-President and Article 71(4) says that the election of the Vice-President cannot be challenged due to any vacancy in the Electoral College.
The Vice-President like the President has a term of 5 years but he may resign from his office before the expiry of such term. In order to remove the Vice-President a resolution of the Rajya Sabha should be passed by a majority of all the members of the House and it should be agreed to by a majority of the Lok Sabha also. According to Article 67 such a resolution can be moved only after a 14 days’ notice of the intention to move the resolution.
Under Article 69 the Vice President shall make an oath before the President or any person appointed on his behalf by him that he shall affirm to the rules of the Constitution and faithfully discharge his duties.
Salary and allowances- The Vice-President receives a salary of Rs.125000[i] and free residence. When he acts as the President he is entitled to the salary, emoluments, immunities and privileges of the President.
The following are the functions of the Vice-President:
- The Vice-President is considered as the ex Officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha[ii].
- He presides over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha but he does not have the right to vote as he is not a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- When there is a vacancy in the office of the President due to death, resignation or removal, the Vice-President shall act as the President.
- When the President is unable to perform his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President shall discharge such functions until the President resumes his duty[iii].
Position in the United States
There are certain similarities in the role of the Vice-President in India and in U.S. The U.S. Vice President is at times referred to as ‘His Superfluous Highness’ to characterize his comparative insignificance in the administration[iv].
The U.S Constitution provides that if the President dies in office, the Vice-President shall take over his position and continue for the remaining unexpired period of the President. This provision makes the position of the Vice-President significant. However, under the Indian Constitution if the office of the President is vacant, the Vice-President will act as the President maximum for a period of 6 months because the Constitution provides that there should not be more than 6 months gap between two sessions of the Parliament and State Legislatures. Therefore, the maximum delay in election of the President shall be 6 months.
Abdul Saquur V Rishal Chandra[v]
In order to determine whether an office is under the control of the Central or State Government there are 5 tests. They are:
- Whether the Government has power of appointment
- Whether the Government has power to remove the holder of office
- Whether the Government pays the remuneration
- Whether the functions performed are for the Government
- Whether the Government exercises control over the execution of those functions
Jaya Bachchan V Union of India[vi]
In this case ‘Office of Profit’ is defined as an office which is capable to yield a profit or a pecuniary gain.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is the Vice-President impeached?
The Vice-President is not impeached. He is rather removed. In order to remove the Vice-President a resolution of the Rajya Sabha should be passed by a majority of all the members of the House and it should be agreed to by a majority of the Lok Sabha also. According to Article 67 such a resolution can be moved only after a 14 days’ notice of the intention to move the resolution.
2. Why is the Vice-President needed?
The Vice-President is given certain important functions like presiding over the meetings of the Rajya Sabha and holding the office of the President when there is a vacancy due to death, impeachment or resignation.
3. How long can the Vice-President discharge the functions of the President?
The Vice-President can discharge the functions of the President maximum for 6 months. New President must be appointed before the expiry of 6 months from the date on which the office of the President is vacated.
Edited byMadonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Salaries and Allowances of Officers of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2008
[ii] Article 64, The Constitution of India, 1950
[iii] Article 65(2), The Constitution of India, 1950
[iv] Prof.M.V.Pylee,, Constitutional Government in India, 258(8th edition,2012), S. Chand and company, New Delhi
[v] Abdul Saquur V Rishal Chandra, AIR 1958 SC 52
[vi] Jaya Bachchan V Union of India, AIR 2006SC2119