Definition: The President of Republic of India is the Head of the State of India and the Commander-in-chief of Indian Armed Forces. He is the first citizen of India and acts as the symbol of unity, integrity and solidarity of the nation. The President is the nominal executive (de jure executive or titular executive) who acts on the advice of council of ministers.
Article 52:-“There shall be a President of India”
Article 53: -Executive power
Article 54:- Election of President (Electoral College)
Article 55:- Manner of Election of President
Article 57:-Eligibility for re-election
Article 58:-Qualification for election as President
Article 62:- Holding election to fill Vacancy
Why in the news?
This year the 15th presidential election will be held in India on July 17.
The main candidates are: Mr. Ram Nath Kovind from NDA led by BJP & Mrs. Meera Kumar led by opposition party Congress (UPA).
Election Of President :-
Qualifications for Election as President:-
A person to be eligible for election as President should fulfill the following qualifications:
- He should be a citizen of India.
- He should have completed 35 years of age.
- He should be qualified for election as a member of the Lok Sabha.
- 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.
Exceptions:- Certain office holders, however, are permitted to stand as Presidential candidates. These are
- The current Vice-President
- The Governor of any state
- A Minister of the Union or of any state (including Prime Minister and Chief Ministers)
The nomination of a candidate for election to the office of President must be subscribed by at least 50 electors as proposers and 50 electors as seconders. Every candidate has to make a security deposit of Rs 15,000 in the Reserve Bank of India. The security deposit is liable to be forfeited in case the candidate fails to secure one-sixth of the votes polled.
Eligibility for re-election:-
The president is elected for a term of 5 years. He is eligible to be re-elected for the same office for unlimited times.
The electoral college consist the following:
- the elected members of both Houses of Parliament
- the elected members of the Legislative assemblies of the States
- the elected members of the legislative assemblies of UT’s of Delhi and Pudducherry
The electoral college does not include the following:
- the nominated members of both the House of Parliament
- the nominated members of state legislative assemblies
- the members (both elected and nominated) of the state Legislative Councils.
Manner of Election of President :-
The President is elected not directly by the people but by members of electoral college. The President is elected by the system of proportional representation by the means of single transferable vote.
How is the value of votes calculated?
The value of votes of electors (voters) is basically determined on the basis of population of the States. Since population figures are dynamic and keep changing every year, it has been decided through the 84th Constitutional Amendment, that until the population figures for the first census after 2026 are published (in other words, 2031 census), the population of the States for the purpose of this calculation will mean the population as per the 1971 census.
The Process for calculating the Value of M.P and MLA vote:-
For the 2017 Presidential election, the total value of the MLA votes is 5,49,495. The Value of each vote of MLA is maximum in Uttar Pradesh (208) and minimum in Sikkim (7).
For the 2017 Presidential election, the total value of the MP votes is 5,49,408.The value of each vote of MP is 708.
The value of a MP vote is substantially higher than the value of a MLA vote. It is in fact 3.5 times the value of a MLA’s vote in Uttar Pradesh where the value of MLA vote is maximum.
The Election Process:-
A ballot paper is given to each voter with the names of the contesting candidates, green ballot paper for MPs & Pink ballot paper for MLAs. This election is conducted using secret ballot. This election happens through the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Hence each voter can mark as many preferences, as the number of candidates contesting the election. These preferences for the candidates are to be marked by the voter, by marking the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on, against the names of the candidates, in the order of preference.
The winning candidate has to secure the required quota of votes to be declared elected, i.e., 50% of valid first preferential votes polled +1.This system ensures that the successful candidate is returned by the absolute majority of votes.
First round of counting:
- After the valid ballot papers are segregated from the invalid ones, the valid ballot papers are distributed among the contesting candidates on the basis of first preference marked on each of them for those candidates.
- The value of votes in favor of each contesting candidate is ascertained by multiplying the number of ballot papers on which the first preference is marked for him, by the value of vote which each ballot paper of a member (MP or MLA) represents.
- The total votes secured by each contesting candidate are then ascertained by adding together the value of votes secured by him from the MPs and the MLAs. This is the first round of counting.
The value of votes secured by each contesting candidate in the first round of counting is added up to determine the total value of valid votes polled at the election. If any of the candidates receives the required number of votes in the first round, he is declared a winner.
If there is not an absolute majority then the least preferred candidate is eliminated from the election and his ballots are distributed among others based on the second preference. This process continues till a candidate is declared elected.
Dispute in the Presidential Election:-
Article 71 stipulates that all doubts arising out of election of the president will be decided by the “Supreme Court”. There can be no dispute on vacancy in an electoral college.
A petition regarding the dispute in election can be filed by any of the presidential candidates. A petition can be filed by any 20 or more electors as joint petitioners. Petition should be filed within 30 days of declaration of the result.
Historical Background ( constitutional assembly debates):-
Direct Vs Indirect Election :-
Some members of the Constituent Assembly criticised the system of indirect election for the President as undemocratic and proposed the idea of direct election. However, the Constitution makers chose the indirect election due to the following reasons.
- In harmony with the parliamentary system of government envisaged in the Constitution.
- The President is only a nominal executive and the real powers are vested in the council of ministers headed by the Prime minister. It would have been anomalous to have the President elected directly by the people and not give him any real power.
- Very costly, time and energy consuming due to the vast size of the electorate. This is unwarranted keeping in view that he is only a symbolic head.
Proportional Representation Vs First Past the POST:-
The FPTP mode of election also known as “straight voting system”, a candidate getting the support of the numerically largest group is elected, although the combined strength of all other candidates representing different other parties may far out-number his supporters. The result is that the elected candidate can not be said to represent the opinion of the majority of the electorate as a whole.
Therefore Proportional Representation system was chosen keeping in mind the diversity of India. The aim of proportional representation is to give every division of opinion among electors corresponding representation in national or regional assemblies.
Problems in Selections of Candidates:-
Contest Vs consensus:
The President is the conscious keeper of the Nation. The President enjoys a special kind of legitimacy. Being the symbol of state he/she is keenly observed in India and abroad. The person occupying the highest constitutional post should be a person of high morale who is able to maintain the dignity and integrity of it. That is why a president should be elected with consensus or at least government should make some efforts to take the opposition into confidence.
Barring the election of Mr.N.S.Reddy (unanimously elected) all the presidential elections were contested. Though the ceremonial in status but every party takes this election seriously which leads to the ideological battle between parties.
- Good for healthy functioning of democracy. The arena of political recruitment is broad. The eminent person from non political background can also be elected.
- A more efficient person is elected because of healthy competition.
- Most of the times the opinion of minor regional parties is completely ignored. The candidate having the support of parliament largest party wins. There is a threat of President acting as Rubber stamp of political parties.
- The President lacks the widest acceptability and honor which is not good in case of the highest constitutional post.
- In harmony with India’s diversity. This can increase the trust of opposition in the government which can lead to smooth functioning of parliament.
- It can act as a healing effect on the fault lines in the society. The Person from the minority community and marginal sections can also be elected.
- It can be interpreted as the weakness of opposition which is unable to check the misuse of power by the government.
- Restrict the arena of political recruitment
Being the Head of State the President should have the widest possible acceptability. A diverse country like India cannot function without consensus-building. The “winner takes it all” approach can lead to a situation where the views of an individual can ride roughshod over the interests of different segments.