Prisoners do not have voting rights, EC tells HC

‘It is subject to restrictions prescribed in the Representation of People Act’

August 06, 2019 01:41 am | Updated 01:41 am IST - New Delhi

The Election Commission of India on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that prisoners do not have voting rights under the Representation of People (RP) Act.

The poll panel said the right to vote is a statutory right created under Section 62 of the RP Act and the law is settled that the “right to vote being a statutory right is subject to the restrictions prescribed in the RP Act”.

The EC filed its affidavit before a High Court bench on a petition filed by three law students seeking to grant and facilitate voting rights to all persons lodged in jails across the country.

The EC referred to a 1997 judgment of the Supreme Court in which it was held that the effect of sub-section (5) of section 62 of the act is that any person who is confined in prison while serving a sentence of imprisonment on his conviction for any offence or is under lawful confinement in a prison or in a police custody for any reason is not entitled to vote in an election.

But this restriction does not apply to a person subjected to any kind of preventive detention, the judgment said.

The petition has challenged the constitutionality of Section 62(5) of the RP Act, which deprives prisoners of their right to vote.

The three law students contended in their plea that a blanket ban on the prisoners’ right to vote was a violation of the spirit and soul enshrined in the Constitution and the basic principle of equality.

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