The Vice President of India

The Vice President of India

Indian Polity

  • The Vice-President occupies the second highest office in the country.
  • The Vice-President, like the president, is elected not directly by the people but by the method of indirect election.
  • He is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament.
  • Thus, this electoral college is different from the electoral college for the election of the President in the following two respects:
  1. It consists of both elected and nominated members of the Parliament (in the case of president, only elected members).
  2. It does not include the members of the state legislative assemblies (in the case of President, the elected members of the state legislative assemblies are included).
  • Vice-President’s normal functions are to preside over the council of states (Rajya Sabha).
  • It is only on a rare occasion, and that too for a temporary period, that he may be called upon to assume the duties of the president.
  • All doubts and disputes in connection with election of the Vice- President are inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court whose decision is final.


  1. He should be a citizen of India.
  2. He should have completed 35 years of age.
  3. He should be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  4. He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any state government or any local authority or any other public authority.
  • The oath of office to the Vice-President is administered by the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him.
  • Even though he presides over Rajya Sabha he is not a member of either House of Parliament.
  • The Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. However, he can resign from his office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the President.
  • He can also be removed from the office before completion of his term.
  • A formal impeachment is not required for his removal. He can be removed by a resolution passed by a majority of all the then members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha.
  • This means that this resolution should be passed in the Rajya Sabha by an effective majority and in the Lok Sabha by a simple majority.
  • Further, this resolution can be introduced only in the Rajya Sabha and not in the Lok Sabha. But, no such resolution can be moved unless at least 14 days’ advance notice has been given.
  • No ground has been mentioned in the Constitution for his removal.

The functions of Vice-President:

  1. He acts as the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha. In this capacity, his powers and functions are similar to those of the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • In this respect, he resembles the American vice-president who also acts as the Chairman of the Senate–the Upper House of the American legislature.
  1. He acts as President when a vacancy occurs in the office of the President due to his resignation, impeachment, death or otherwise.
  • He can act as President only for a maximum period of six months within which a new President has to be elected.
  1. When the sitting President is unable to discharge his functions due to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges his functions until the President resumes his office.
  2. While acting as President or discharging the functions of President, the Vice-President does not perform the duties of the office of the chairman of Rajya Sabha.
  • During this period, those duties are performed by the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Therefore, no double role.
  • The office of the Indian Vice-President is modelled on the lines of the American Vice-President.

Though the office of the Indian Vice-President is modelled on the lines of the American Vice-President, there is a difference:

  • American Vice-President succeeds to the presidency when it falls vacant, and remains President for the unexpired term of his predecessor.
  • The Indian Vice-President, on the other hand, does not assume the office of the President when it falls vacant for the unexpired term.
  • He merely serves as an acting President until the new President assumes charge.
  • From the above it is clear that the Constitution has not assigned any significant function to the Vice-President in that capacity.
  • Hence, some scholars call him ‘His Superfluous Highness’.
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