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.
63. "The Vice-President of India.- There shall be a Vice-President of India."
Article 63 is the original provision in the Constitution of India and till date it has not been amended. It remarks that the framers of the Constitution were aware of the situation contrary to President's office. The post of Vice-President is the second hierarchy after the post of President in the governance of Indian Union as the largest democracy in the world.
Though the post of Vice- President is at second step, he is far in reach of President's status. The President has a special Headquarters i.e. the President's House, but the Vice-President has no such accommodation. The President has a separate cabinet having almost all departments like cabinet of Union of India. But Vice-President does not have such a department in our governance system. He has only a separate Secretariat in his official accommodation comprising of total staff below 60, headed by a Secretary who holds a mere rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India.
Even if the power of the Vice- President is so titularative, If the President is out of India, then he has to permit, in respect of any urgent order etc., over the telephone, to the Vice-President to perform his duties in that respect.
The Constitution of India is silent about who performs the duties of the Vice-President when he performs the duties of the President but magically there is a provision that where he remains on leave and does not attend Rajya Sabha, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha performs his duty in full capacity.
Not only in India, in the world democracy, the position of Presidents and Vice-Presidents are rich in mind and poor in eye. There is no post of President and Vice-President in United Kingdom. The leader of its government is Chief Executive in its democratic governance. In Australia there is no post of President and Vice-President, because it is still under the British Queen.
In America, the Vice-President is President of its Senate and has voting power in it. Unlike India, the Vice-President in America occupies a higher post in its government.
In China, there is a post of Vice-President who occupies a very dignitary position in parallel with its President. All foreign issues are resolved and coordinated by him.
In this context the framing of our Constitution was a peculiar form. The term 'Republic' in its Preamble implies an elected head of Indian Union. It has chosen system of electing one of its citizens as its President as head of the country at a regular interval of five years. Under a Republican form, the head of the State, single or collective, is always elected as a symbol of first citizenry and others left to democratic governance and Vice-President stands next to President who is a titular head.
Our Constitution is totally silent about the legislative power of Vice-President when he performs the office of President and is totally clear about President's Legislative power i.e. power of promulgating Ordinance during recession of Parliament.
The Vice-President of India presently receives Rs. 1,25,000 per month whereas the President receives Rs. 1,50,000 per month as per new law of the year 2009.
Though he is in a second position in receiving salary after President, he has no Treaty making power, he has no power to declare President's rule upon advice of the Governor of a State having breakdown of constitutional machinery as President has under Article 356. He has no power of pardon or remission of sentence of an accused like President has. He has no power to declare emergency as President has.
Most importantly, the executive power of the Union is vested in President either directly or through officers subordinate to him but not through Vice- President. Till date 12 Vice-Presidents have come to power in India from the year 1952.