The President of India, who is head of State, is indirectly elected.

The qualifications for the office of President are:

[1] should be a citizen of India;

[2] should have completed the age of 35 years;

[3] should be qualified to be elected as a member of Lok Sabha; and

[4] should not hold any office of profit i.e. the candidate should not be a government servant.

However the office of the President, the Vice-President, the Governor or the Minister of the Union or the State is not considered as an office of profit for this purpose.

The President cannot at the same time be a member of Parliament or of a State Legislature.

If a Member of Parliament or State Legislature is elected as President his/her seat will be deemed to have been vacated on the date, he/she assumes office as President of India.


Election Procedure–

The President is elected by an Electoral College consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and of the State Legislative Assemblies (Vidhan Sabhas).

Nominated members of Parliament and members of State Legislative Councils are not members of the Electoral College.

The election is held by means of single transferable vote system of proportional representation.

The voting is done by secret ballot.

The framers of the Constitution were keen to obtain parity between the votes of the elected members of Parliament on one side and elected members of Legislative Assemblies of all the States on the other.

They devised a system to determine the value of vote of each Member of Parliament and Legislative Assembly, so as to ensure equality.

Single Transferable Vote System–

The election of the President is held through single transferable vote system of proportional representation.

Under this system names of all the candidates are listed on the ballot paper and the elector gives them numbers according to his/her preference.

Every voter may mark on the ballot paper as many preferences as there are candidates.

Thus the elector shall place the figure 1 opposite the name of the candidate whom he/she chooses for first preference and may mark as many preferences as he/she wishes by putting the figures 2,3,4 and so on against the names of other candidates.

The ballot becomes invalid if first preference is marked against more than one candidate or if the first preference is not marked at all.

Counting of Votes and Declaration of Result–

Members of State Legislative Assemblies cast their votes in States Capitals, while Members of Parliament cast their votes in Delhi in the States Capitals.

Counting of votes is done at New Delhi.

First preference votes of all the candidates are sorted out and counted.

To be declared elected a candidate must get more than 50% of the total valid votes polled.

This is known as Quota.

The Quota is determined by totalling the total number of votes polled divided by the number of candidates to be elected plus one.

In this case, since only the President is to be elected, so division is done by 1+1.

One (01) is added to the quotient to make it more than 50%.

At the first count only first preference votes are counted.

If any of the candidates reaches the quota, he/she is declared elected.

In case no candidate reaches the quota, then the 2nd preference votes of the candidate getting the least number of first preference votes are transferred to other candidates.

Thus the candidate getting the least number of votes is eliminated.

If after counting, a candidate reaches quota, he/she is declared elected as the President.

In case no candidate reaches quota, even at this stage, then the votes of next candidate getting the least number of votes are transferred to the others.

It continues till any one candidate gets the quota of votes.


Let us understand it with the following example.

Supposing the total number of valid votes is 20,000 and there are four candidates A, B, C and D.

The quota in this case will be

2000÷(1+1)+1 = 10001

Let us assume that first preference votes cast in favour of all the four candidates are as follows:-

A = 9000

B = 2000

C = 4000

D = 5000

As no candidate has reached the quota i.e. 10001, candidate ‘B’ getting the least number of votes gets eliminated and his votes transferred to the other candidates.

Supposing as a result of transfer of votes ‘A’ gets 1100, ‘C’ gets 500 and ‘D’ 400. Now the position would be as follows:

A = 9000 + 1100 = 10,100

B = 6000 + 400 = 6400

C = 4000 + 500 = 4500

Since ‘A’ reaches quota he is declared elected as the President.

Before entering upon the office the President has to take an oath of office in the presence of the Chief Justice of India.


Oath or Affirmation by the President–

Before entering upon his office, the President has to make and subscribe to an oath or affirmation. In his oath, the President swears:

[1] to faithfully execute the office;

[2] to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law; and

[3] to devote himself to the service and well-being of the people of India.

The oath of office to the President is administered by the Chief Justice of India and in his absence, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court available.

Any other person acting as President or discharging the functions of the President also undertakes the similar oath or affirmation.


Tenure of the President–

The President is elected for a term of five years and is eligible for re-election, though a convention has developed that no President seeks election for the third term.

However, the first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected for two full terms.

He/she can resign from his/her office at any time by addressing the resignation letter to the Vice- President.

His/her term of office commences from the date he takes the oath of office.


Privileges and Immunities

The President of India enjoys certain privileges and immunities which include the following:

[1] The President is not answerable to any court of law for the exercise of his functions.

[2] The President can neither be arrested nor any criminal proceedings be instituted against him in any court of law during his tenure.

[3] The President cannot be asked to be present in any court of law during his tenure.

[4] A prior notice of two months time is to be served before instituting a civil case against him.