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HomeNewsPrisoners' voting rights: Supreme Court issues notice to Centre

Prisoners’ voting rights: Supreme Court issues notice to Centre

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to respond to a public interest litigation challenging the validity of a section of the Representation of People Act that prohibits a prisoner from casting vote.

The petitioner, Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya, has contended that the wording of Section 62(5) of the Act used confinement as a yardstick to disenfranchise prisoners from casting their votes. The section deprives any person confined to a prison of the right to vote in any election.

The PIL argues that in addition to convicts sentenced to imprisonment, even under-trials whose innocence or guilt had not been conclusively determined were denied the right to vote as they were also “confined” in prison.

However, a convict imprisoned as part of the sentence can still cast a vote if released on bail as such a person is not per se “confined” in prison, the plea stated. A person detained in civil prison is also deprived of the right to vote as a result of the overly broad language in the provision, which uses “confinement” in the context of “sentence of imprisonment…or otherwise”, the petition said.

It argued that the provision operated as a blanket ban, as it lacked any kind of reasonable classification based on the nature of the crime committed or the duration of the sentence imposed.

This lack of classification is anathema to the fundamental right to equality under Article 14, the petitioner argued.

A bench comprising Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Hima Kohli issued notice on the PIL and posted the matter for hearing on December 29.

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