The term of office of Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, ends on 24th July, 2012. An election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President shall need to be completed before the expiration of her term. The law provides that the notification for election shall be issued on, or as soon as conveniently may be after, the sixtieth day before the expiry of term of office of the out going President.
Article 324 of the Constitution read with the Presidential and Vice –Presidential Elections Act, 1952, and the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974 vests the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of election to the office of the President of India in the Election Commission of India. The Election Commission is mandated to ensure that the election to the office of the President of India, which is the highest elective office in the nation, must be a free and fair election and the Commission is taking all necessary steps for discharging its constitutional responsibility.
The President is elected by the members of the Electoral College consisting of:
(I) elected members of both Houses of Parliament, and
(II) elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all States including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
(The nominated members of either Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha or Legislative Assemblies of the States are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College and therefore, they are not entitled to participate in the election).
The Seven-Judges Bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously held in 1974 in the case of Presidential election that “the Electoral College as mentioned in Article 54 is independent of the Legislatures mentioned in Article 54. None of the Legislatures mentioned in Article 54 has for the purpose of that Article any separate identity vis-a-vis in the Electoral College. The Electoral College compendiously indicates a number of persons, holding the qualifications specified in the Article to constitute the electorate for the election of the President and to act as independent electors…”
Article 55 (3) of the Constitution provides that the election shall be held in accordance with the System of Proportional Representation by means of single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.
A nomination paper of a candidate has to be subscribed by at least fifty electors as Proposers and at least fifty electors as Seconders. An elector can subscribe to only one nomination paper of a candidate as either a Proposer or a Seconder. The security deposit for the election is Rs. 15,000/- (Rupees fifteen thousand only), which is required to be made along with the nomination paper.