The Act being one of the Central Government was enacted by the Parliament of India with the name and short title as ‘the Vice- President’s Pension Act, 1997’ vide its no. 30 of the year 1997. The object and purpose for which the same was provided is for making provisions for the payment of pension and other facilities to the Vice-Presidents who are being retiring. The Act was enacted in the 48th year of republic of India and was assented by the President of India on 28th day of the May, 1997. The provisions of the Act were amended several times by the different Amending Acts, including the Act no. 45 of 1999, Act no. 23 of 2002 and Act no. 29 of 2008.
The post of the Vice- President of India is being the second- highest post as per the constitutional frame work of the Country, and the first top most post is that of honorable President of India. The provision for appointment of such Vice- President of the country, is given under Article 63 of the Constitution of India. And it is the duty of such Vice- President of India to act as President in case when the honorable President of India is absent due to either reason of his death, resignation, impeachment, or in any other situations. He is also vested with the position of Chairman- ex officio of the Rajya Sabha. The provisions as to election of such Vice- President of India are provided under Article 66 of the Constitution of India, where it is given that he should be elected indirectly by members of an electoral college consisting of the members of both Houses of Parliament as per the system of Proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote and such voting will be by secret ballot.
So far as the provisions of the Act are concerned, there are only five sections in the Act, which were originally, provided with the Act, however, by the Amending Act no. 29 of 2008, a new provision being section 6 to the Act was added with effect from 31st day of December, 2008. Considering the provisions of the Act one by one, the first provision of the Act specifying the short- title of the Act as aforesaid, only. Whereas, the section 2 of the Act makes provisions very corresponding to that of the purpose and object of the Act dealing with the provisions of payment of pensions to the Vice- Presidents being retiring from their office. Provisions specifies that such vice- President, who ceases to hold the office as such, either by reason of expiration of term of office or even due to resigning the office of Vice- President, will be entitled to payment of Pension. The rate of such pension is 50 per cent i.e. half of his per month’s Salary being Vice- President. And such pension is required to be paid for the remainder of such retiring Vice- President’s life. The rate of pension was earlier of rupees 20 thousands only, however, the said rate was replaced with the 50% as aforesaid with the Amendment taken place in the year 2008, by the Act no. 29. The proviso clause to this Section makes it very clear saying that the persons entitled to pensions under this section as being retiring Vice- Presidents will not be entitled to receive such pension amount during the period if they hold the Prime Minister’s office, or the office of Minister or any other office or even if they become a Member of Parliament and is in receipt of salary and allowances which are defrayed out of the India’s or any States’ consolidated Fund. The provisions have also been made for providing family pension to the spouse of a such Vice- President, if he dies during the term of his office as Vice- President or otherwise he ceased to hold that office due expiration of term thereof or even by reason by his resignation to his office. The provision was added to the Section 2 of the Act as sub section (1A), by the Amending Act no. 23 of the year 2002, which was brought into operation from 5th day of July, 2002. It was also made clear that the rate of such family pension will be 50% i.e. half of the pension which is admissible to such retiring Vice- President as aforesaid. In other words the family pension will be paid in all given cases at the rate of 25% of the monthly salary of the Vice- President being retiring.
The said section 2 of the Act also provides for certain other facilities to such retiring Vice- President, including use of rent free furnished residence along with its maintenance, use of telephones at his residence, provision of Secretarial staff, provisions for medical attendance and treatment for himself and his immediate family members, and also provisions of travelling facilities. However, the said facilities will not be extended to such retiring Vice- Presidents who are re-elected to the same office of Vice- President or even to the office of the President of India.
Section 3 of the Act further provides that, in case of the deceased Vice- President, the spouse of such deceased Vice- President will be entitled to the medical attendance and treatment without any charges, for the remainder of life. Moreover, the new section 3A which was added by the Amending Act of 2002, makes provisions to the effect that in case the Vice- President during the term of his officer as such, or even in case he ceases to hold that office due to expiration of term of his office or otherwise because of his resigning the office, the Spouse of such person will be entitled to the use the aforesaid furnished residence with its maintenance without any fees for the remainder of her life. Section 4 of the Act, makes it clear that whatever amounts are payable under this Act should be charged on the India’s Consolidated Fund.
Lastly the provisions of section 5 of the Act empower the Central Government to make rules by notifying in the Official Gazette to carry out the purposes and objects of present Act. Also the new provisions of section 6 of the Act was added to it by the Amending Act of 2008 as afore discussed, provides for the difficulty removing power of the Central Government which can arise while giving the effect to the provisions of this Act, by making orders.
Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan