From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Electoral College of President
Mains level : President’s election and impeachment process
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has replied ambiguously to an RTI query if the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be part of the Electoral College for the election of the President of India.
This newscard invokes our basic GYAN acquired from the holy ‘Indian Polity’ by M. Laxmikanth. After reading this, ask yourself questions about the following :
1) What comprises the electoral college of the President of India?
2) Cases where the Constitutional Amendment Acts are required and wherever not
What did ECI say?
- The RTI request sought a list of the State and UTs Legislative Assemblies which were part of the Electoral College for the election of the President.
- The query also asked the EC to clarify whether the newly-formed UT of Jammu and Kashmir was part of the Electoral College.
- The EC sent a single-line response, merely saying- for the information, the applicant may be informed to refer Article 54 of the Constitution of India.
What is Article 54 of the Constitution?
- Under Article 54, the President is elected by an Electoral College, which consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States and also of NCT of Delhi and the UT of Puducherry.
- The art. 54, thus, only specifically mentions NCT of Delhi and Puducherry as eligible to be part of the Electoral College.
- There is no word about the newly-formed UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
Ambiguity over J&K
- The J&K Reorganization Act, which came into existence from August 2019, does not specify anything about whether the legislature of J&K would be able to vote in the election for a President.
- A passing mention is made in Section 13 of the 2019 Act, which claims that J&K Legislature would have the same powers as its Puducherry counterpart.
- The astonishing thing to note is that not a single MP in the parliamentary debate has pointed out this fact yet.
A constitutional amendment is required
- Inclusion of new members in the Electoral College in Article 54 would require a Constitutional Amendment to be carried out through two-thirds majority in Parliament and ratification by over 50% of the States.
- This matter involves principles of federalism, hence constitutional amendment is a must.
- Delhi and Puducherry were included as Electoral College members under Article 54 through the Constitution (Seventieth) Amendment Act of 1992.
- Before that, Article 54 consisted of only the elected Members of Parliament as well as the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
Back2Basics: Presidential Election in India
- The President is elected by an Electoral College, which consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States and also of NCT of Delhi and the UT of Puducherry.
- The authority to conduct elections to the Office of President is vested in the Election Commission of India.
- The election of the President is 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.
- The notification calling the election to the office of the President can be issued by the Election Commission on any day within the period of sixty days before the expiry of the term of office.
- The election schedule shall be so fixed, that the President-elect is able to enter upon his office on the day following the expiry of the term of the outgoing President.
With inputs from: TOI