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April 17, 2019

Law student files PIL for prisoners’ right to vote. SC asks him why he picked up this cause


Supreme Court Of India

The CJI-led bench posed queries regarding the petitioner, his interest in the subject, and reason for choosing the particular cause when a PIL for prisoners' right to vote came up for admission in the Supreme Court.

"Before we entertain this petition under Article 32, filed as public interest litigation, we would like to know more about the petitioner; his interest in the subject matter and why he has picked up this particular cause to be raised and that too by an Article 32 petition,” said the bench of CJI and Justice Sanjiv Khanna in the order. The query had “no connections with the merits of the contentions raised, the bench however clarified.

One Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya, a student of the National Law School of India University, filed the petition challenging Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which says that no person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison.

The petition further points out an anomaly that persons who are out on bail can vote. "There is no conceivable object that the classification envisaged by the impugned provision seeks to achieve. Even if decriminalization of politics is said to be the object..., it cannot be conceived how the impugned provision, which deprives prisoners of their right to vote, has any nexus at all with decriminalization of politics, which is concerned with the right to contest of candidates with criminal antecedents", states the petition while attacking the provision as violative of Article 14 for being arbitrary and discriminatory.

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