The Constitution of India provides for the office of the Vice-President.Under the Indian Constitution in case the post of the President falls vacant on account of death, ailment or incapacity, the Vice President can hold the office of the President maximum for six months.
The Vice-President is elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of Proportional Representation by means of the Single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot conducted by election commission.
Current Vice-President of India
Mohammad Hamid Ansari (Born 1 April 1937) is the 12th and current Vice President of India, in office since 2007. Ansari is the only person to get re-elected for the post of Vice President of India after Dr. Radhakrishnan.He also presently serves as President of the Indian Institute of Public Administration and Chancellor of Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Ansari worked as an ambassador and served as Vice-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University from 2000 to 2002.Later he was Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities from 2006 to 2007. He was elected as Vice President of India on 10 August 2007 and took office on 11 August 2007. He was re-elected on 7 August 2012 and was sworn-in by Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India. The oath taking ceremony was conducted at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 11 August 2012.
Qualifications for the office of the Vice-President
1.He must be a citizen of India.
2. He must not be less than 35 years of age.
3. He must all qualifications which are necessary for becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha.
4. He must not hold any office of profit under any government.
5. He must not be a member of either House of Parliament or of any State Legislature.
Election of The Vice-President of India
Article 63 of the Constitution provides for a Vice-President of the Indian Union, in addition to the President. The Vice-President is elected by the members of both the Houses of Parliament at a joint session by secret ballot, in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote system. The system of his election differs from that of the President because the President is the head of the Indian State dealing with matters relating to the Centre as well as the states.
Hence, in the case of the President election, both the members of the Parliament and the State Assembly legislators take part. The election is conducted by the Election Commission subject to the constitutional requirements and under the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Act, 1962.
The term of the office of the Vice-President is five years. He may, however, resign his office before the expiry of normal term. The letter of resignation is to be addressed to the President. He is eligible for re-election to the same office.
He can be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all the then members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha. It may, however, be pointed out that according to Article 67(b) no resolution of his removal can be moved unless 14 days’ notice has been served upon him. He continues to hold office, until his successor succeeds him.
Oath of Office
Every Vice-President shall before entering upon his office make and subscribe before the President or some person appointed on his behalf, an oath or affirmation in the following form: “I, A.B., swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India, as by law established and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter.”
With the passage of the Salaries and Allowances of officers of Parliament Amendment Act 1985, the salary of the Chairman of the Council of States was raised to Rs. 7,500 p.m. Besides he was to get Rs. 1,000 as sumptuary allowance. Later it was further raised to Rs. 14,500. Besides he was entitled to daily allowance as admissible to the Members of Parliament.
When he acts as the President, he is allowed to draw emoluments and allowances due to the President and obviously during this period he ceases to draw salary of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The Parliament on August 4, 1998 passed a law hiking his salary to Rs. 40,000 p.m. Since January 10, 2008, the Union Cabinet had given nod to the raising of his salary to Rs. 85,000 p.m. However, President of India accorded her consent to the hike of Vice President’s salary to 1.25 lakhs. The revision has been effected since January 1, 2006.
Functions of the Vice-President of India
Despite his office being devoid of powers and authority the Vice-President holds an office of considerable dignity next to the President in order of precedence.
He is equipped with two fold functions
(i) He is the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. In this capacity, he possesses the usual powers of a presiding officer, including a right to exercise a casting vote in case of a tie. He is not, however, a member of Rajya Sabha, hence he is not given the right to vote in the House,
(ii) The Vice- President steps in the shoes of the President, if the office of the latter falls vacant (temporarily) because of the President’s ailment, resignation, removal or death.
To quote an example, such an opportunity arose for the first time in June 1960 when Dr. Rajendra Prasad went to Soviet Union for 15 days and Dr. Radhakrishnan was asked to discharge his duties. In May 1961 Dr. Prasad fell ill and Dr. Krishnan was again asked to take over. The election of the President must take place within six months of the date of occurrence of the vacancy.
During the period, the President is unable to discharge his functions, the Vice-President acts as the President, and exercise all the functions of the President and enjoys all immunities and receives such emoluments, allowances etc. to which the President is entitled.
It may, however, be pointed out that the President himself is to decide whether he is “unable to discharge his functions”, since the Constitution, is silent about it. In case of sudden and serious ailment, the Parliament may determine it. Article 70 clearly states “Parliament may make such provision, as it thinks fit for the discharge of functions of President in any contingency not provided for in this chapter.”