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.
55. "Manner of Election of the President.- (1) As far as practicable, there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of the different States at the election of the President.
(2) For the purpose of securing such uniformity among the States inter se as well as parity between the States as a whole and the Union, the number of votes which each elected member of Parliament and of the Legislative Assembly of each State is entitled to cast at such election shall be determined in the following manner:-
(a) Every elected member of the Legislative Assembly of a State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the State by the total number of the elected members of the Assembly.
(b) If, after taking the said multiples of one thousand, the remainder is not less than five hundred, then the vote of each member referred to in sub-clause (a) shall be further increased by one.
(c) Each elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States under sub-clauses (a) and (b) by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament, fractions exceeding one-half being counted as one and other fractions being disregarded.
(3) The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.
Explanation .- In this article, the expression ''population'' means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published:
Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, be construed as a reference to the 1971 census."
Importance of Election of the President
The President of India is the head of the State and is vested, under Article 53 of the Constitution, with the executive power of the Union which shall be exercised by him in accordance with the Constitution either directly or through officers subordinate to him. In Empero r v. Sibnath , AIR 1954 SC 156 (163), the Supreme Court held that the expression 'officers subordinate to him' includes Ministers also. This separates the dignity and position of the President from the other Ministers. India as a nation is known to be a democratic country where the representatives are elected by the people. But the power, position and wisdom of the President of India separates him from the other dignitaries and hence his election procedure is also different. The importance of his election is very unique and so is the procedure adopted for his election. The system adopted for voting in election of the President is secret ballot. The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote by the Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States. The nominated members of the Houses at the Centre and the States do not have voting rights in the election of the President.
Procedure of Election
According to Article 55(1), as far as practicable there shall be uniformity in the scales of representation among the States at the election of the President. Article 55(2) provides that for the purpose of securing such uniformity among the States inter se as well as the parity between the States as a whole and the Union , the following formula is adopted for the election of the President:
Every elected member of the Legislative Assembly of the State shall have as many votes as there are multiples of 1000 in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the particular State by the total number of the elected members of the Assembly. If, after taking the said multiples of 1000, the remainder is 500 or more, it will be counted as one and the vote of each member is incensed by one. Thus, the number of votes which an MLA of a particular State is entitled to cast in the Presidential election is based on the ratio of population of the State to the total number of the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of that State.
The number of votes which each elected member of either House of Parliament is entitled to cast shall be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to the members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States obtained under the above formula by the total number of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament. If by this division the remainder exceeds one-half it will be counted as one. This formula secures parity of votes between the members of Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
Suppose the population of Gujarat is 208,49,840. The total number of elected members of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly is 208 ( one member representing one lakh of population ). Now, the way to obtain the number of votes which every member of a Legislative Assembly is entitled to cast at the Presidential election is to divide 208,49,840 ( i.e. population of Gujarat ) by 208 ( total number of elected members of the State ) and then to divide the quotient by 1000.
208,49,840 / 208 = 100239
Now, 100239 / 1000 = 100.239
= 100 ( Rejecting the remainder 239 being less than 500 )
Thus, each member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly will get 100 votes and the total votes that can be cast by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly would be 100 x 208 = 20,800.
Now, suppose the total number of votes of elected members of Legislative Assemblies of all States in accordance with the above calculation is 74,940 and the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament is 750 then the number of votes each member of Parliament (MP) is entitled to cast would be:
74,940 / 750 = 99.92
= 100 ( Since the fraction .92 exceeds one-half it will be counted as one, and will be added to the total numbers i.e. 99 + 1 = 100)
Proportional Representation by Means of the Single Transferable Vote
Article 55(3) of Indian Constitution requires that the President should be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The underlying principle of proportional representation is to prevent the exclusion of minorities from the benefits of the State, and to give each minority group an effective share in the political life. The aim of proportional representation is to give every division of opinion among electors corresponding representation in national or local assemblies. The best known form of proportional representation is that of the 'single transferable vote', which means that each elector has only one vote, irrespective of the number of seats to be filled up. For instance, if there are six seats to be filled up, the elector does not cast six votes but indicates six successive preferences, by marking his first preference and the succeeding preferences with the appropriate numerals against the name of candidates printed on his ballot paper.
The present system of election for the President has been adopted under the Constitution of India in order to maintain the neutrality of the head of State as a parliamentary system demand and also to render it acceptable to as wide a body of opinion as possible. But it should be remembered that the presidential office can be kept above political turmoil only if the majority party at the Centre willingly consults minority parties before a nomination is announced. This is desirable, because, despite the provision that for the election of the President the votes of the members of Parliament be equal to those of the Assemblies of all the States taken together, the possibility cannot be set aside that State Legislatures may, at any time, be dominated by parties other than the party in power at the Centre and in such a case, they might be able to defeat a nominee of the majority party at the Centre.
The Presidential election is not free from difficulties. Election of the President can be held even if some seats in the Electoral College are vacant. Such election cannot be called in question on the ground of any vacancy existing for whatever reasons, among the members of the Electoral College electing a person either as President or Vice-President. Further, a President in office can change the composition of the Electoral College by dissolving one or more hostile Legislative Assemblies under Article 172(1) or 174(26) or under 356(1) of the Constitution of India.