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Let us unleash the SCIENCE OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS –
As the elections for The President of India are around the corner, curiosity fills the minds of the readers. There are many deserving names that come up in each head, and everyone is waiting eagerly to know who would be the first citizen of India.
However, lawmen have a different perspective for this scenario. For interrogating minds, the procedure of appointment for an esteemed post as this will surely be notable. So, this article hereby intends to make this complex process of indirect election a bit plain sailing so that it is easily comprehended by the laymen.
There are a few roles and powers which are specific to the president of the country. These roles are elicited below.
ROLES AND POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT
- The head of state of Republic of India
- Formal head of Union, Legislative And Executive
- The Supreme commander of Defence Forces
- Makes all major appointments i.e. of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, CAG, Attorney General, Governors, Ministers, Chief Commissioner of Election, Members of Election Commission etc., consultation with council of ministers
- Has powers to summon and prorogue the sessions of both Houses of Parliament and to dissolve Lok Sabha
Election to the Office of President of India is governed by the provisions contained in Articles 54 to 58 of the Constitution of India and Section 62 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952.
In India, the Presidential election is indirect in nature which means voting is not done by the citizens directly but-
- By the Members of both Houses of Parliament,
- And by elected members of State Legislative Assemblies (including NCT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry).
There are certain pre requisites that need to be fulfilled.
- Must be a citizen of India.
- Must have completed 35 years of age.
- Must be eligible to be a member of the Lok Sabha.
- Must not hold any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State or under any local or other authority subject to the control of any of the said Governments
Exceptions are the offices of President and Vice-President, Governor of any State and Ministers of Union or State.
AUTHORITY FOR CONDUCTING ELECTION
Under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the authority to conduct elections to the Office of President is vested in the Election Commission of India.
A Returning Officer is by convention, the Secretary General, Lok Sabha or the Secretary General, Rajya Sabha in rotation.
Assistant Returning Officers
- Two other senior officers of the Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Secretaries
- And one more senior officer of Legislative Assemblies of all States including NCT of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
The Election Commission of India makes such appointments.
A. A nomination paper of a candidate has to be filed for the election in the prescribed form.
- It must be subscribed by at least fifty electors as proposers and at least electors as seconders.
- It has to be presented to the Returning Officer, between 11AM and 3PM on any day appointed for the purpose.
- It shall be made either by the candidate himself or by any of his proposers or seconders.
B. The Security Deposit for the election of Rs.15000/- should also be deposited along with the nomination paper.
C. A certified copy of the entry showing his name in the current electoral roll for the Parliamentary Constituency in which the candidate is registered as an elector.
A candidate can present by himself or in his behalf a maximum of four nomination papers. However, he is required to make only one security deposit in this regard.
An elector can propose or second the name of only one candidate (If made for two, then the one reaching to Returning Officer first will be taken into consideration)
A nomination paper shall be rejected on following grounds-
- If a candidate is not eligible for election as president.
- If any of the proposer or seconder is not an elector to election.
- If nomination paper is not subscribed by required number of proposers and seconders.
- If the signature/s of proposers or seconders is/are obtained by fraud.
- If nomination paper is not deposited to Returning Officer in time or the security deposit is not made on time.
If more than one nomination (Max. four) is filed in name of one candidate, then the one will be chosen i.e. without any irregularity or defect. A nomination cannot be rejected on a ground that is not of substantial character.
Under article 55 (3) of Constitution, the election of president is processed according to the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote and such voting shall be by secret ballot.
Ballot papers are printed:
- In two colors-
- GREEN– for use of Members of Parliament and
- PINK– for use by the Members of the State Legislative Assemblies.
- With two columns-
- first column containing the names of the candidates
- the second column for marking preferences by the elector for each such candidate
- And in the following languages-
- For MPs – Hindi and English
- For MLAs– English and the official language(s) of the State concerned.
A Room in the Parliament House in New Delhi and a room in all State Legislative Assembly Secretariats are generally fixed as places of poll.
The above said places are fixed for normal course of election but there are provisions for a MP to vote in his State capital and a MLA to vote in Parliament house at Delhi or any other state capital. Provided, that they have to intimate the Election Commission well in advance (ten days) for necessary arrangements.
Electors can have as many preferences but marking of the first preference is only necessary for making a ballot paper to be valid. 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. These figures should be either in international form of Indian numerals or in Roman numbers and not in any other form.
An elector cannot exercise his vote at a Presidential election by proxy. Unlike in Parliamentary and Assembly elections, a disabled or illiterate cannot take help of any of his companion rather has to take assistance of Presiding officer to caste his vote.
An elector under preventive detention during period of election of President can cast his vote through postal ballot. But only those votes through postal ballots will be taken into consideration on which the signature of elector on declaration and the attestation form received with ballot paper is duly signed by the authority specified in such form.
The counting is done in the office of Returning Officer at New Delhi.
- Separation– The counting of votes starts from separation of valid and invalid ballot papers. Invalid papers are the one on whom i) preferences are not marked or ii) marked in a way causing confusion or iii) some other figure is marked or iv) any mark is present which in any way reveals the identification of any elector.
- First counting– In this, ballot papers are handed over to the candidates on which there name is on the first preference. After which, the total number of ballot papers in hands of per candidate is multiplied to the value of vote which each ballot paper of a member (MLA or MP) represents. (Yes, there is a difference in value of votes of MLAs from state to state but in case of MPs, it remains the same. This calculation might have blown the heads at the starting and my further article would be left unread so this technicality has been shifted to the last with an easy example). The total votes of a candidate are determined by summing up the value of votes secured by him from MPs and MLAs. This is first round of counting.
- Quota Sufficient: The value of votes credited to each contesting candidate in the first round of counting is divided by two and one is added to the quotient so obtained, ignoring the remainder, if any. Since, electors can have as many preferences. The winning candidate has to secure the required quota of votes to be declared elected, i.e., 50% of valid votes polled +1.
If the candidate is not elected at first time, the second preferences will be taken into consideration and the candidate will least vote will be excluded. All the ballot papers on which second preference is not marked and even the third or fourth preferences are marked, will get exhausted.
The same process will be followed as mentioned in 3rd point until there is a candidate elected as the president.
Even after the exclusion of the candidates receiving the lowest number of votes, no candidate secures the requisite quota and ultimately one candidate remains as the lone continuing candidate, he is declared elected even if he has failed to secure the quota sufficient to secure the return of a candidate.
APPEAL AGAINST THE ELECTION
An election petition can be filed in Supreme Court:
- by a candidate
- by twenty or more electors joined together, and
may be presented at any time not later than 30 days after the date of publication of the declaration containing the name of the returned candidate at the election under Section 12 (of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952).
Subject to these provisions, the Supreme Court, under Article 145 of the Constitution, may regulate the form, manner and the procedures connected with following election petition.
CALCULATION OF VALUE OF VOTES
The value of votes of electors (voters) is basically determined on the basis of population of the States. It has been decided through the Constitution (84th Amendment), that until the population figures for the first census after 2026 are published, the population of the States for the purpose of this calculation will mean the population as per the 1971 census.
The value of the vote of each MLA is calculated by dividing the population of the State as per 1971 Census, by the total number of elected members of the respective state assembly, and then to divide the quotient by 1000. Total Value of all members of each State Assembly is obtained by multiplying the number of seats in the Assembly by the number of votes for each member. Similar process is followed for all the states. For the 2017 Presidential election, the total value of the MLA votes is 5,49,495.
The total value of votes of all the States is divided by the total number of elected members of Parliament (Lok Sabha 543+Rajya Sabha 233) to get the value of votes of each Member of Parliament or the MP. For 2017, this worked out to be 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 the highest.
Both the values (MP & MLA) are added to the total value of the votes for any Presidential Election. In 2017, this value was 10,98,903 (5,49,408 for MP & 5,49,495 for MLA). The total number of eligible voters in the 2017 election is 4896 (776 MPs & 4120 MLAs from states).
Calculations are tedious but the main focus remains on understanding the procedure as lawyers are called the Theory Masters rather than Calculating Machines. Lawyers emphasis on scrutinizing the procedure and analyze the prospects of the candidates coming forward for the elections as other professionals take care of the vote and value calculations.
By – Lakshay Anand
(Content Writer @ Legal Bites)