The Delhi high court dismissed a PIL seeking voting rights for prisoners, it saw no reason to entertain the plea and hence dismissed it. The petition was regarding the constitutionality of the Sec 62(5) of the Representation of People Act, The election commission of India informed the Delhi High court that the prisoners do not have voting rights under the RP act.
According to this section, any person who is confined in prison under a sentence of imprisonment or is under lawful confinement or in police custody is not entitled to vote.
The constitutional judge bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and justice C Hari Shankar said that right to vote is not regarded as a fundamental right, it is a right provided by the statute.
The plea was made by three law students Prerna Singh, Atul Kumar Dubey and Praveen Kumar Chaudhary seeking voting rights for the prisoners. They argued that there must be a distinction in the prisoners for those charged with heinous crimes from those with minor crimes.
The EC dismissed the plea and it has been upheld by the supreme court. The panel said that the right to vote is a statutory right and hence is subject to the restrictions mentioned in the act. The panel also gave the reference of the 1997 judgement of the SC; According to this section, any person who is confined in prison or is under lawful confinement or in police custody is not entitled to vote.
Supreme court gave the following guidelines in the 1997 judgement:
- There will be a resource crunch as permitting every person in prison also to vote would require the deployment of a much larger police force and greater security
- A person who is in prison as a result of his own conduct cannot claim equal freedom
- To keep persons with criminal background away from the election scene.
This restriction, however, doesn’t apply to any person subjected to preventive detention.
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