Right to vote for undertrial prisoners

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Right to vote for undertrial prisoners

Recently the Supreme Court will examine the law depriving undertrials of the right to vote.

The court’s decision came on a petition challenging Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951.

This section deprives the prisoners of their right to vote. However, this restriction does not apply to a person placed in preventive detention.

According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there are around 5.5 lakh prisoners in different jails across the country.

Arguments in favor of giving voting rights to prisoners

  • Section 62(5) of the RPA is discriminatory because of its generality. This is because this section deprives the people in police custody, including the prisoners in jails, from voting.
  • While a convicted person is allowed to vote when he is on bail, undertrials in jail are not allowed this, which is unfair.

Arguments in favor of not giving voting rights to prisoners-

  • In the Anukul Chandra Pradhan Vs Union of India (1997) case, the Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 62(5) for the following reasons.
  • The right to vote is not granted as per Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • The legislature can limit the franchise.
  • This helps to avoid criminalization of politics and ensure electoral transparency.
  • The pressure on resources would increase, as better security arrangements would have to be made to allow this.

Source – The Hindu

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