The President of India is elected not directly by the people but by members of electoral college consisting of:
1. the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament;
2. the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the states; and
3. the elected members of the legislative assemblies of the Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
Thus, the nominated members of both of Houses of Parliament, the nominated members of the state legislative assemblies, the members (both elected and nominated) of the state legislative councils (in case of the bicameral legislature) and the nominated members of the Legislative Assemblies of Delhi and Puducherry do not participate in the election of the President.
Where an assembly is dissolved, the members cease to be qualified to vote in presidential election, even if fresh elections to the dissolved assembly are not held before the presidential election.
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:
1. Every elected member of the legislative assembly of a state shall have as many votes as there are multiples of one thousand in the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the state by the total number of the elected members of the assembly.
2. Every elected member of either House of Parliament shall have such number of votes as may be obtained by dividing the total number of votes assigned to members of the legislative assemblies of the states by the total number of the elected members of both the Houses of Parliament.
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.
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.