Article 63 provides that there shall be a Vice-President of India. The Vice-President is declared to be the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. In the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the President by reason of his death, resignation or removal, or otherwise, Vice-President shall act as the President until the date on which the new President is elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution to fill such vacancy, enters upon his office.
Again, when the President is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President shall discharge his functions until the date on which cause President resumes his duties.
Qualifications for the Office of Vice-President [Article 66 Clause (3) and (4)]
Clause (3) of Article 66 lays down that a person to be eligible for the office of the Vice-President, must possess the following qualifications:
- He must be a citizen of India.
- He must have completed the age of thirty-five years.
- He must be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
- It requires that he must be registered as a voter in any Parliamentary Constituency.
- He must not hold any office of profit under the Government India, or the Government of any State, or under any local, or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Government
Election of the Vice-President [Article 66(1)]:
- The Vice-President is elected by the 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 single transfer vote and the voting at such election is done by secret ballot.
- The President and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1997, provides that there should be 20 proposers and 20 seconders to support the candidature of a person in the election of the Vice-President.
Time for holding Election (Article 68)
Clause (1) Article 68 provides that an election to fill a vacancy cause by the expiration of the term of Vice-President shall be completed before expiration of the term of the earlier Vice-President.
While an election to fill a vacancy occurring by reason of his death, resignation or removal or otherwise shall be held as soon as possible after the occurrence of the vacancy.
Term of Office of the Vice-President, Resignation (Article 67)
Article 67 lays down that the Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office.” He shall continue his office even after the expiration of his term of five years until his successor enters upon his office.” The Vice-President may, by writing under hand, addressed to the President, resign his office.
Removal of Vice-President [Article 67 (b)]
The Vice-President may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all the members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha. However, no resolution for the removal of the Vice-President shall be moved in the Rajya Sabha unless at least fourteen days’ notice has been given of the intention to move the resolution. It may be noticed that the Constitution does not prescribe any ground in which a resolution for the removal of Vice-President can be moved.
Oath of Office (Article 69)
Article 69 says that the Vice-President, before entering upon his office, shall make and subscribe before the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation in the following form, that is to
“I, A.B., do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will 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.”
Conditions of Office [Articles 66(2), 64 & 65 (3)]:
- The Vice-President shall not be a member of either House of Parliament or of a House of the Legislature of any State, and if a member of either of such House is elected as the Vice-President then, he shall be deemed to have vacated his seat in that House on the date on which he enters upon his office as Vice-President.
- The Vice-President shall be ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and shall not hold any other office of profit. During any period when the Vice-President acts as President or discharges the functions of the President under Article 65, he shall not perform the duties of the office of Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. During such period, he shall have all the powers and immunities of the President and be entitled to such emoluments, allowances privileges as are specified in the Second Schedule to the Constitution.
- It may be noticed that the Constitution does not provide the salary, allowances or the privileges to which the Vice-President is entitled to as Vice-President. He, therefore, does not receive any salary or allowance as a Vice-President. When he is acting as President or discharging his functions the Vice-President is entitled to such salary and allowances as are payable to the President. And, when he is not so acting, he shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and shall be entitled to such salary and allowances as are determined under Article 97 for the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
After scanning the provisions relating to the office of the Vice-President it may be noticed that not much importance is given to this office. The office is created for the purpose of providing for an event, when there is a vacancy in the office of the President or when the President is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause. The normal function of the Vice-President on the other hand, is to preside over the Rajya Sabha.