Plea in SC on voting rights of undertrials and convicts

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A petition has been filed in Supreme Court which has questioned the electoral laws which denies undertrials and convicts their right to vote.

Voting Rights of Undertrials and Convicts:

  • A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the law which bars undertrials and convicts from voting.
  • Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act,1951 says that no person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police.
  • This provision exempts a person held under preventive detention and a person out on bail.
  • The SC has observed that a person is in prison because of his or her conduct, and cannot claim equal rights as others who are not incarcerated.
  • The petitioner points out that the section uses ‘confined’ as the yardstick which has created several anomalies. The petition highlights how this section sees both an undertrial and a convicted person equally.
  • The undertrial guilt is yet to be proved in a court. A person is innocent until proven guilty by law. Despite this, it denies an undertrial the right to vote but allows a detainee the same. However, a person out on bail is allowed to cast his vote.
  • The petitioner has argued that the provision violates (a)Article 326 of the Constitution which says that the right to vote is a Constitutional right (b)Right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution as it was discriminatory.
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Voting Rights under Indian Constitution:

  •  Article 326 of the Indian Constitution provides that every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than 18 years of age shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.
  • The article further provides that if any citizen is otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or any law made by the appropriate Legislature on the ground of non-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice, SHALL NOT be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.

Sources: The Hindu

Probable Question:

Consider the following statements with regards to Disqualifications for registration in an electoral roll. If he/she-

I.  is not a citizen of India.

II. is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court.

III. is for the time being disqualified from voting under the provisions of any law relating to corrupt practices and other offenses in connection with elections.

Which of the following statement’s is/are true?

A. I and II

B. II and III

C. I and III

D. All of these

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