Vice President of India: Eligibility, Election, Power, Functions and Removal

The officer of Vice-President is second highest public office in India. Vice-President has second rank in the order of precedence. However, practically, his office has been created to provide political continuity of the Indian state. He works as acting president when president is not available.  His main function is in the form of ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Thus, in this context, India’s Vice President is equivalent to speaker of Lok Sabha.

Eligibility to become Vice-President of India

As per article 66, the candidate contesting for election of Vice-President of India should fulfill the below conditions:

  • He must be a citizen of India
  • He must have completed age of 35 years
  • He cannot hold an office for profit.
  • He must be qualified to become a member of Rajya Sabha.

Thus, while presidential candidate should be qualified to become a member of Lok Sabha, Vice-presidential candidate should be qualified to become a member of Rajya Sabha. In reality it does not make much difference because minimum age for Lok Sabha MP is 25 years and that of Rajya Sabha MP is 30 years. This condition has been already overridden because both presidential and vice-presidential candidates should have completed 35 years.

Election, term of office, removal, Oath

Like Presidential election, election of vice president is held via system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote {indirect election}. However, Vice President is elected by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs. The MLAs or MLCs have no role to play here. This sounds to be an anomaly but it is justified by giving logic that Vice President works as president of the whole country in rare occasions when President is not available. In normal circumstances, his work is to preside the Rajya Sabha.

Joint Sitting in Election of Vice-President

The original constitution laid down the method of election of Vice President of India by members of both Houses of Parliament assembled at a joint meeting.   However, later it was felt that the requirement that both houses should assemble at a joint sitting for the election of the Vice-President, is unnecessary and has practical difficulties. So, this difficulty was removed via 11th amendment in 1961. Since then, the method of voting is same as that in case of election of President.

Doubts and Disputes in election

The doubt and dispute arising out of election of President and / or Vice President can be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Term and removal

The term of office of the Vice President is five years. The term may end earlier by resignation which should be addressed to the President. The term may also terminate earlier by removal. The Vice President can be removed by a resolution by the members of the Rajya Sabha. To move such resolution, a 14 days’ notice is to be given.  Such a resolution, though passed by the Rajya Sabha only, but must be agreeable to the Lok Sabha. There is no need of impeachment of Vice President for removal.

Functions of Vice President

Vice President is the executive Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and cannot hold any other office of the profit. However, during the period when he/ she acts as the officiating President of India, he / she shall not act as chairman of the Rajya Sabha and shall not be entitled to the salary or allowances payable to the chairman of the Rajya Sabha.  Article 65 says that in case the President is unable to discharge his/ her duties for reasons such as illness, resignation, removal, death or otherwise, the Vice President shall carry out functions of the President. In such case, he/ she shall be entitled for the salary, allowance and all privileges of the President.

Notable points about President and Vice-President

  • While office of President is designed on British model, office of Vice-President of India is designed on lines of American Vice-President.
  • While presidential candidate should be qualified to be a Lok Sabha MP, Vice-Presidential candidate should be qualified to be a Rajya Sabha MP.
  • While the president takes the oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, Vice President takes oath of true faith and allegiance to the Constitution.

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