The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of—
(a) the elected members of both Houses of Parliament; and
(b) the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
Explanation.—In this article and in article 55, ''State'' includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union territory of Pondicherry
Article 43, Draft Constitution of India, 1948
The President shall be elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of-
(a) The members of both Houses of Parliament, and
(b) The elected members of the Legislatures of the States.
The Constituent Assembly debated Draft Article 43 (Article 54, Constitution of India, 1950) on 10th and 13th December 1948. The Draft Article provided for the President to be elected by an electoral college consisting of members of both houses of parliament and elected members of state legislatures.
The core debate on Draft Article 43 revolved around an amendment to base presidential elections on adult franchise; The member who moved the amendment opposed the Draft Article for not sufficiently representing the will of the people. In defence of his proposal, he argued that direct elections were indispensable to ensure that the President was the true representative of the collective sovereignty of people. He argued that his amendment took care to not make the President a ‘creature of party majorities’ and would insulate the President from the 'vicissitudes of parliamentary fortune'.
There was strong opposition to this proposal. One member noted that ‘adult citizens’ would even allow Indian citizens who were otherwise disqualified from voting in general elections to participate in presidential elections. Further, it would be inconsistent with the parliamentary form of government which ‘presupposes responsible government’. The elected representatives are entrusted with the government, not citizens themselves. Another member argued that direct elections would make the President a ‘party man’: He/She would be supported by a political party as direct elections would necessitate active campaigning for votes. It was further pointed out that the President was not the ‘real sovereign’: he was analogous to the King of England.
The Chairman of the Drafting Committee responded to the proposal and highlighted its practical difficulties. First, he noted that the size of the electorate was too large and would make it extremely difficult to conduct adult franchise based presidential elections. Second, direct elections would pose several administrative issues including inadequate unofficial polling staff, bribery, corruption and election manipulation. Third, since the President in the Indian Constitution was ‘only a figurehead’, it does not necessitate elections based on adult franchise.
The Assembly rejected the proposal and adopted the Draft Article with minor amendments.