This article on ‘Law relating to Presidential election in India‘ was written by Jagrati, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
On 25th July 2022, the 14th President of India, Mr Ram Nath Kovind will reach the finality of his tenure accompanied by the commencement of the 15th President’s tenure.
The Presidential election in India can be regarded as the lightning rod for cut-throat politics. Since every major political party goes the extra mile to name a candidate that helps them set up a favourable narrative or immense popularity among the citizens. Like in the case of Droupadi Murmu (a former Jharkhand Governor) who belongs to a Santhal tribe of Odisha has been nominated as the official candidate of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for the 2022 Presidential election in India. Through this, a persistent effort has been made by the ruling party to represent itself as a paragon of caste inclusivity along with entrenching its Hindutva ideology.
Does this bring us to a series of questions starting with who is the President? How is the President of India elected? What are the laws and criteria present for the Presidential election in India? Who elects the President? This article will focus on these particular questions along with similar relevant questions in the following paragraphs.
Post of the President in India
The President is the de jure head of the state, the supreme commander of the armed forces as well as the foremost citizen of India. Articles 52-62 of the Indian Constitution specifically deal with the post of the President. Every executive action of the state is taken in his name as stated in Article 53. Since India has a Parliamentary System of Government, the post of the President is nothing more than a nominal head since the Council of Ministers led by the Prime Minister constitutes the ultimate source of counsel and edict for the President and hence, he is void of any actual authority.
The Presidential Election in India: Process
As per Article 54 of the Constitution, the Presidential election in India come within the category of indirect elections i.e., the President is not elected directly by the common citizens of India but by elected MPs and MLAs which constitute the electoral college. This electoral college is comprised of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assemblies of the states, and of the Union Territories of Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Puducherry.
The nominated members of the both Houses of Parliament and other State Legislature Assemblies are not eligible to vote since they are not people’s representatives i.e., not directly elected by the citizens of India and are actually nominated by the President (Article 80 (2)).
The value of a vote for each MP has been reduced from 708 and fixed at 700 after the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly was dissolved in 2018, as per the Election Commission of India. However, the vote of each MLA differs since each legislative assembly and its respective state consists of varying strengths of members and populations respectively.
In order to get a proportional representation from each state as well as to ascertain the value of the votes of eligible voters, a formula based on the population of each state stipulated under Article 55 (2) (a) is operated: the total population of the state is divided by 1,000 times the strength of its Legislative Assembly.
Since the 84th Amendment Act, 2001 has frozen the constitutional boundaries till the national census of 2026 is published, the constituencies have been fixed according to the 1971 census (Article 55 (3)). Presently, the highest strength of any constituency is that of Uttar Pradesh which stands at 208 whereas the lowest stands at 7 which is Sikkim
Manner of voting in the Presidential election in India
The Presidential election in India is carried out in accordance with proportional representation by means of a single-transferable vote taken by a secret ballot system mentioned under Article 55 (3) of the Constitution. The term “proportional representation by means of a single-transferable vote” refers to the method of the election where the candidates are chosen on the basis of a ranked preferential method which entails the transfer of votes to alternative candidates where the winning candidates surpass the quota or the least preferred candidates are eliminated.
During the presidential elections, the electors are given ballot papers that do not contain any election symbols but only 2 columns, one, showcasing the name of the candidates and two, containing the array of preferences.
The voters cast their votes by ranking their preferences in the space adjacent to the name of the candidates. For example, if a voter likes candidate X the most, he places 1 next to X, and if his next preference is Y, he puts 2 beside his name, and so forth. In this, the voter is not obligated to rank all the preferences provided on the ballot paper and is obligated to place his first preference only.
After this, the number of votes a candidate needs to be elected known as the quota system is calculated by using the formula: (Valid Votes Cast/Seats Available +1) +1.
The next step is to count the first preference of each voter and if no one meets the quota, the candidates with the fewest votes are excluded and their votes are apportioned among the remaining candidates equally. In the subsequent rounds of tallying, if one of the candidates secures the minimum number of quotas, then all of the other candidates’ votes are transferred to him and he is declared the winner, if there occurs a tie, then one candidate is randomly selected for elimination.
Since this system is not like the First Past the Post System where a party wins on the basis of acquiring a simple majority, the candidate in the single-transferable vote system wins after bagging the maximum number of first preference votes i.e., acquiring the votes equivalent to the quota.
Criteria to contest the Presidential election in India
Article 58 of the Constitution stipulates that a person is said to be eligible for election as President if he is a citizen of India, his age is at least 35 years, and is qualified for election as a member of the House of the People. However, the said candidate must not hold any office of profit (candidates who are holding the positions of President, Vice President, Governor, or Minister are the exceptions) under any Central or State Government. Even if those candidates who have previously or are currently holding the position of the President shall according to the other provisions of the Constitution be eligible to contest.
The nomination process of a candidate for the post of President is regulated via the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election Rules, 1974 according to which every candidate has to obey its prescribed form (Form 2).
For the nomination to be successful, at least 50 electors as proposers and another 50 as seconders must accept the form of the candidate. The ‘elector’ here refers to the elected MP and MLA. The said nomination paper is presented to the Returning Officer (one who is responsible for supervising the elections) along with a security deposit of Rs. 15000. The candidate needs to submit a certified copy of the entry showcasing his name in the electoral list for the Parliamentary Constituency in which the candidate is listed as an elector.
In this article, we got to know the relevant laws and procedures related to the presidential election in India who although is just a nominal head, still constitutes to be the most important and responsible position due to the magnitude of powers entrusted to him by way of which he can be a valued member in the day-to-day governance.
- Express Web Desk, “Droupadi Murmu: 10 things to know about NDA’s presidential nominee”, Indian Express, June 22, 2022, Available at: (Accessed July 2, 2022). https://indianexpress.com/article/india/draupadi-murmu-10-things-to-know-about-ndas-presidential-nominee-7982963/
- Tusharika Narwal, “Explainer: How the President of India is elected”, Live Law, June 21, 2022 Available at: https://www.livelaw.in/know-the-law/explainer-how-the-president-of-india-is-elected-202038 (Accessed July 2, 2022).
- Abhinav Ranjan, “How is the President of India elected? Explained”, India TV, June 9, 2022 Available at: https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/president-of-india-election-process-explained-electoral-college-formula-2022-06-09-783208 (Accessed July 2, 2022).
- Sanjay Sharma, “Presidential poll candidate must have 50 MPs, MLAs as proposers, 50 as seconders”, India Today, June 12, 2022 Available at: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/presidential-poll-candidate-proposers-seconders-1961520-2022-06-12 (Accessed July 2, 2022).
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Single Transferable Vote”, Britannica Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/single-transferable-vote (Accessed July 2, 2022).