SC will examine the law regarding the rights of imprisoned netas voting in Rajya Sabha

SC will examine the law regarding the rights of imprisoned netas voting in Rajya Sabha
Posted on 21-06-2022

SC will examine the law regarding the rights of imprisoned netas voting in Rajya Sabha and council elections

In The News:

  • Two former Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), ministers were recently denied permission by the Supreme Court of India to hear their pleas. They wanted to be freed and allowed to vote in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections.
    • Two ministers are currently in judicial custody for money laundering charges.
  • The SC said that it would examine whether certain exceptions could be made by judicial interpretation in order to allow MLAs and MPs who are imprisoned to vote in Rajya Sabha elections and Legislative Council elections.

What's today's article?

  • Voting rights for prisoners
    • India has the right to vote
    • Right to vote in India for prisoners
    • Interpretation of Indian Judiciary
    • Practices elsewhere
    • Way ahead
  • News Summary

Voting rights for prisoners:

  • India has the right to vote
    • Under Article 32, the Indian Constitution has given the right to vote to any Indian citizen of sound mind over the age of 18 regardless of caste, religion or economic status.
    • Although voting is not a fundamental human right, it is a legal right that citizens have. This right is granted to all Indians with some exceptions.
  • Right to vote in India for prisoners
    • According to the Prisoner Safety Act, 1894 a prisoner refers to any person being held in prison because they are suspected of any crime or are under punishment for an unlawful act.
    • The Constitution mentions the right to vote for such an individual. 1951 Representation of Peoples Act (RPA). Section 62 The RPA refers to people who are exempted or denied the "right" to vote.
      • Section 62(5) of RPA says that no person in prison or lawful custody of the police shall be allowed vote.
  • Interpretation of Indian Judiciary :
    • The SC affirmed Section 62 of RPA's constitutionality in 1997. It ruled that it was and not a right granted under Article 14 Indian Constitution.
    • The right to vote is not a fundamental right. .
      • Accordingly, denial of voting rights for prisoners is not an infringement of Article 21 or Article 14 of Indian constitution.
    • In another instance, the petitioner sought the annulment of Section 62(5) RPA because it violates the fundamental structure of the Indian constitution.
      • The SC ruled that the right to elect a voter is not a constitutional right or a fundamental right. However, it is a statutory rights and can be restricted by statute .
      • Please be aware that in People's Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India (2003) the Supreme Court ruled that the Right to Vote was a constitutional right.
  • Other
    • A BBC report claims that 18 European countries, including Ireland, Slovenia and Ireland, grant their prisoners the right to vote.
    • However, in some countries, such as the United States and Italy, citizens lose their right to vote even if they are released from prison.
  • Way ahead:
    • Section 62(5) (RPA) is based upon the assumption that
      • What choices would a prisoner make to improve society if they failed to uphold the rules and norms?
      • Which representative would you expect a murderer to choose?

News Summary

  • According to the SC bench
    • Section 62(5) of RPA prohibits anyone in prison from voting in any election, except for those who are being held behind bars in preventive detention.
    • RPA does not distinguish between ordinary prisoners and representatives of the people.
    • This blanket prohibition has been in effect unaffected by any exceptions made by Parliament.

Key Highlights

  • Arguments in favor of voting
    • To deny the MLAs their constitutional right of vote, would be to to deprive their constituents of their voice in the election of the legislative council members .
    • If this is true, they shouldn't be held in prison. This is because their constituents are not allowed to speak up at the assembly.
  • Steer clear of the court
    • The bench said that it rejected the request for interim relief (permissions to vote and go out of prison).
    • However, it did issue a notice to both the state and Union governments regarding the issue of MLAs and MPs being allowed to vote in Rajya Sabha elections and MLC elections.
Thank You