The President is elected not directly by the people but by members of electoral college consisting of:
The Constitution provides that there shall be uniformity in the scale of representation of different states as well as parity between the states as a whole and the Union at the election of the President. To achieve this, the number of votes which each elected member of the legislative assembly of each state and the Parliament is entitled to cast at such election shall be determined in the following manner:
The President’s election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and the voting is by secret ballot. This system ensures that the successful candidate is returned by the absolute majority of votes. A candidate, in order to be declared elected to the office of President, must secure a fixed quota of votes. The quota of votes is determined by dividing the total number of valid votes polled by the number of candidates to be elected (here only one candidate is to be elected as President) plus one and adding one to the quotient. The formula can be expressed as: Each member of the electoral college is given only one ballot paper. The voter, while casting his vote, is required to indicate his preferences by marking 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. against the names of candidates. This means that the voter can indicate as many preferences as there are candidates in the fray.
In the first phase, the first preference votes are counted. In case a candidate secures the required quota in this phase, he is declared elected. Otherwise, the process of transfer of votes is set in motion. The ballots of the candidate securing the least number of first preference votes are cancelled and his second preference votes are transferred to the first preference votes of other candidates. This process continues till a candidate secures the required quota.
All doubts and disputes in connection with election of the President are inquired into and decided by the Supreme Court whose decision is final. The election of a person as President cannot be challenged on the ground that the electoral college was incomplete (ie, existence of any vacancy among the members of electoral college). If the election of a person as President is declared void by the Supreme Court, acts done by him before the date of such declaration of the Supreme Court are not invalidated and continue to remain in force.
Some members of the Constituent Assembly criticised the system of indirect election for the President as undemocratic and proposed the idea of direct election. However, the Constitution makers chose the indirect election due to the following reasons:
Further, it was pointed out in the Constituent Assembly that the expression ‘proportional representation’ in the case of presidential election is a misnomer. Proportional representation takes place where two or more seats are to be filled. In case of the President, the vacancy is only one. It could better be called a preferential or alternative vote system. Similarly, the expression ‘single transferable vote’ was also objected on the ground that no voter has a single vote; every voter has plural votes.