Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL for compulsory voting in Parliament
The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the Centre and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take apposite steps for compulsory voting in the Parliament and State Assembly elections and said casting a vote is a matter of choice and the judiciary cannot pass such directions.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Friday also said, “casting vote is their (eligible citizen of India for voting) right, their choice”.
Noting the court’s observation, the petitioner decided to withdraw the petition.
The Petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a practising Advocate and BJP leader had also sought direction from the Law Commission to prepare a report on Compulsory Voting.
Plea stated that low voter turnout is a persistent problem in India. Compulsory voting can help to increase voter turnout, particularly among marginalized communities. It ensures that every citizen has a voice and that the government is representative of the people’s wishes. When voter turnout is high, the government is more accountable to the people and is more likely to act in their best interests.
Compulsory voting has been implemented successfully in countries like Australia, Belgium, and Brazil. These countries have seen significant increases in voter turnout and improvements in the quality of democracy, stated the plea.
The Supreme Court and High Court have repeatedly issued directions in the past to the Election Commission to exercise its powers under Article 324 with respect to superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of elections to Parliament and the State legislatures to redress violations of the fundamental rights and to protect the purity of the electoral process and there is a good reason why the Court must take steps for simultaneous election, the plea said.
The Constitution provides for the right to vote as a fundamental right under Article 326. This right is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law. Compulsory voting can be implemented as a reasonable restriction in the interest of ensuring the smooth functioning of democracy. The Supreme Court has also held that the right to vote is a statutory right, and the government has the power to impose reasonable restrictions on this right, plea read.
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