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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

ARTICLE 69 : Oath or affirmation by the Vice-President

The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.

69. "Oath or affirmation by the Vice-President. Every Vice-President shall, before entering upon his office, 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 say  

"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."

This is an original Article as was revised in second draft Constitution of India. During Constituent Assembly debates there was no objection or comments by many members. Only some members commented on the ground of Indian religious faith in the light of swearing in departing from the US and UK system of oath or affirmation because in the USA the system of oath and the person from whom the Vice-President takes oath is different from Indian system. In the USA immediately before the President takes oath on the very auspicious Inauguration Day the Vice-President has to take oath on such inaugural platform and repeat the same words of oath of office as President does. The Constitution of the USA specifically makes the provision for oath of President with a specific form but for oath or affirmation there is no such prescribed form for Vice-President.

Contrarily, the oath or affirmation of British Queen who is the constitutional head, is a promise to be loyal to British Monarch and her heirs or successors. This affirmation or oath is sworn to certain public servants of the UK. As British Constitution is an unwritten one, such system of oath is provided in the Promissory Oaths Act of 1868 in a prescribed form.

Coming to Indian context the provision of oath or affirmation of Vice-President differs though there were many discussions in the Constituent Assembly only because Indian societal status differs from the UK and the USA.

In India the Vice-President does not take oath on the same platform of oath ceremony of the President. President takes oath from Chief Justice of India and in his absence from the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court. The form of oath, prescribed in the Constitution is different from the form of oath of the Vice-President and both top officials do not swear in on the same platform and by the same official.

The Vice-President of India takes oath from the President of India as prescribed in this Article and in absence of the President, from a person appointed on behalf of the President. It means the Cabinet Secretariat of the President House selects a person for this purpose. The rank and file of such person is not specifically mentioned in this Article. The Vice-President takes oath before entering into his office i.e. Rajya Sabha or Upper House of Parliament of India as he has no official and full-fledged House of his own other than his official accommodation. The provision of oath of allegiance is prescribed in this Article. As he is second top-most official in Constitutional and Presidential line the form of oath is not prescribed in the Indian Oaths Act nor in the Schedules of Constitution. As India is a secular country as spelled in the Preamble of the Constitution of India, no specific religious head is mentioned in this Article. Hence, the Vice-President takes oath in the name of "God" unlike United States where the Vice-President's oath or affirmation does not mention any religious head in whose name he swears in, but at the end of swearing words he recites "so help me God".

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