The Presiding Officer of the Rajya Sabha: Article 63 of the Constitution of India provides that there shall be a Vice-President of India Articles 64 and 89 (1) provide that the Vice-President of India shall be ex-officio Chairman of the Council of States i.e., Rajya Sabha and shall not hold any other office of profit. In the constitutional set-up, the holder of the office of Vice-President is part of the Executive but as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha he is a part of Parliament. He has thus a dual capacity and holds two distinct and separate offices. To be qualified for election as Vice-President, Article 66(3), a person has to be a citizen of India, has completed the age of 35 years and must be qualified to be elected as a member of Rajya Sabha. Election of Vice-President: The Vice-President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. The voting at such election is by secret ballot. All doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with the election of Vice-President can be looked into and decided only by the Supreme Court of India whose decision is final. Term of Office of Vice-President: The Vice-President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office. He may, however, resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the President of India. He may also be removed from his office by a resolution of the Rajya Sabha passed by a majority of all the then members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha. At least fourteen days' notice is necessary before such a resolution is moved. Notwithstanding the expiration of his term, the Vice-President continues in office till his successor assumes office (article 67). An election to fill a vacancy caused by the expiration of term of office of the Vice-President has to be completed before the expiration of the term and an election to fill a vacancy occurring due to death, resignation, removal of the Vice-President or any other reason is required to be held as soon as possible after the occurrence of the vacancy. A person elected to fill such a vacancy holds office for a full term of five years. Oath by Vice-President: Before entering upon his office, the Vice-President has to make and subscribe before the President or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath/affirmation in the following form:- "I, A.B., do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter." Functions as Vice-President: Under article 65 of the Constitution of India, the Vice-President acts as President in the event of a vacancy occurring due to death, resignation or removal of the President, or otherwise. The Vice-President reverts to his office when a new President is elected and enters upon his office. When the President is unable to act owing to his absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President discharges the President's functions for a temporary period until the President resumes his duties. When the Vice-President acts as, or discharges the functions of the President, he has all the powers and immunities of the President and is entitled to the same emoluments as the President (article 65), However, during this period he does not perform the duties of the office of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (article 64} and then the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha acts as its Chairman. Parliament has by an enactment made provision for the discharge of the functions of the President when vacancies occur in the offices of the President and of the Vice-President simultaneously, owing to removal, death, resignation of the incumbent or otherwise. In such an eventuality, the Chief Justice of India, or in his absence the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court of India available discharges the functions of the President until a newly elected President enters upon his office or a newly elected Vice-President begins to act as President under article 65 of the Constitution whichever is earlier. Besides presiding over the Rajya Sabha and performing Presidential duties in the contingencies mentioned above, the Vice-President performs several other functions. At times, he goes on goodwill and friendship missions to other countries or represents the country abroad on occasions of national importance in those countries. Because of the high office of the Vice-President, he is consulted on formulation and implementation of State policies. Though he is not connected with the day-to-day affairs of the State, he is posted with the decisions of the Cabinet so that he has with him a complete picture of the affairs of the Union Government. There are many claimants on the time and wealth of wisdom and experience of the Vice President. If one were to see a day's list of visitors at the Vice-President's House, one will get an idea about the number of dignitaries and delegations who come to call on him. His social, cultural, educational, academic engagements are indicative of his busy schedule. He may be wanted for a university convocation or release of a commemorative volume about a freedom fighter, or for inauguration of a seminar or unveiling of a statue of an eminent countryman and so on. The letters, representations, petitions and memoranda received by him from persons, organisations and institutions seeking his personal attention, run into hundreds. Some seek advice from him, others want him to intercede on their behalf with those who matter, still others just call on him to pay respects and regards. By convention he is also the Chancellor of some universities and in that capacity he is closely associated with many eminent institutions of higher learning, The Vice-President has a small Secretariat called the Vice-President's Secretariat to assist him in the discharge of his duties and functions. The Secretariat is headed by a Secretary who is a senior civil servant. Functions as Chairman of the Rajya Sabha: As the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Vice-President presides over the meetings of the House. As the Presiding Officer, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is the unchallenged guardian of the prestige and dignity of the House. He is also the principal spokesman of the House and represents the collective voice to the outside world. He ensures that the proceedings of the House are conducted in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions, rules, practices and conventions and that decorum is maintained in the House. He is the custodian and guardian of the rights and privileges of the House and its members. Due to several pressing and urgent engagements and preoccupations as Vice-President he may not be able to devote full time as Presiding Officer of the Rajya Sabha, but in practice he presides during the first hour of the sitting of the House which is the Question Hour. This lively and occasionally tumultuous period is one of the high points of the day during each Session where the accountability of Government is most obviously on display. He deftly handles the situation, ensures that Members' rights of asking questions and receiving complete replies is well enforced and gives rulings on privilege matters and other procedural points. Whenever important debates or landmark discussions such as on Constitution Amendment Bills take place, he is invariably in the Chair. He has no vote except when there is a tie (article 100). The Chairman's rulings constitute precedents which are of a binding nature. The Chairman is not bound to give reasons for his decisions. The Chairman's rulings cannot be questioned or criticised and to protest against the ruling of the Chairman is a contempt of the House. In his task as Chairman, he is assisted by the Deputy Chairman who is a member of the House and elected by it. The Deputy Chairman presides over the Rajya Sabha in the absence of the Chairman and performs the duties of the office of the Chairman if the Vice-President is acting as President or if there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President. There is also a panel of six Vice-Chairmen, which is constituted every year. A Vice-Chairman presides over the meeting of the Rajya Sabha in the absence of the Chairman or the Deputy Chairman. There is a Secretariat of the Rajya Sabha headed by a Secretary-General to assist the Chairman in the discharge of his functions. The dual Role: The Office of the Vice-President is one of the unique features of the Constitution of India. It has no exact parallel in the countries of other democratic constitutions of the world. There is no such office in other parliamentary systems of Governments in Commonwealth countries or in Ireland. The only Constitution, among the important democracies of the world, which provides for such an office, is that of the United States of America. But the office of the Vice-President of India though analogous to, is not identical with, that of the Vice-President in the United States of America for the obvious reason that it has a presidential system of Government and not a Parliamentary one as in India. And yet the Constitution-makers of India, while basically following the British Parliamentary system, decided to opt for the American system and provided that like the Vice-President in the U.S.A. The Vice-President of India would preside over the Upper House and act as President in certain contingencies. Thus the Vice-President of India has been clothed with a dual capacity as the second head of the Executive and as the Presiding Officer of the Upper House of Parliament. This naturally casts an enormous burden of responsibility on the holder of the two offices. He has to keep the responsibilities of the two offices distinct and separate. The Chairman cannot allow his mind to be influenced by the knowledge acquired in his capacity as the Vice-President. While performing his duties as Vice-President, he cannot do anything which may impair his obligation as Chairman. It is remarkable that in India the holders of this high office as Vice-President have functioned within this fusion of roles and have received admiration and appreciation of the nation as a whole. All of them have been great personalities. They have occupied the Chair of the Rajya Sabha with singular distinction and have performed their functions with dignity and grace during all these years. The Past Chairmen: It is said that institutions make men: it is equally true that men mould institutions. This is singularly true in case of Chairmen of the Rajya Sabha who held the august office and lent lustre and dignity to the Rajya Sabha since inception in 1952 under the Constitution of India. An important factor which has contributed to the Rajya Sabha occupying the present position is the eminence, wisdom and learning of its successive and successful Presiding Officers. All these persons have been great leaders in their fields and have played significant and often crucial roles in the affairs of the Nation. By their presence in the House, they enhanced its dignity, by their words of wisdom from the Chair, they enriched the understanding of the members. They laid down high traditions and were instrumental in helping the House develop its distinct personality and establish its corporate prestige. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (13.5.52-12.5.62) the first Vice-President/Chairman of the Rajya Sabha was a philosopher and scholar of world repute. He guided the deliberations of the House with a philosopher's impartiality and sage's dignity. Dr. Zakir Husain (13.5.62-12.5.67) was an eminent educationist. Shri V. V. Giri (13.5.67-3.5.69) was a great labour leader. Dr. Gopal Swarup Pathak (31.8.69-30.8.74) was a legal luminary. Shri B.D. Jatti (31.8.74-30.8.79) was an eminent social and political worker. Shri M. Hidayatullah (31.8.79-30.8.84) was a leading light of law and former Chief Justice of India. Shri R. Venkataraman (31.8.84-24.7.87) was an able and experienced administrator. Dr. Shanker Dayal Sharma(3.9.87-24.7.92) was known for scholarly wisdom. Shri K.R. Narayanan (21.8.92-24.7.97) was a diplomat and a man of letters. Shri Krishan Kant (21.08.1997 - 27.7.2002, passed away while in office) was an experienced parliamentarian and an able administrator. Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat became Vice-President and Chairman, Rajya Sabha on 19th August 2002. He completed his term on 21st July 2007. The Present Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, is Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari.

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