The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on Monday in response to a petition challenging Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, which denies prisoners the right to vote.
A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi, and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi sought responses from the government and the Election Commission of India. Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) pointing out that the wording of Section 62(5) uses ‘confinement’ as the yardstick, causing various ambiguities.
Bhattacharya filed the petition in 2019 and challenged Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which denies any person incarcerated the right to vote in any election.
“No person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police,” the section states.
The petitioner claims that the clause does not indicate whether a detained person or a person out on bail can exercise their universal adult franchise while under trial.
According to the petition, the clause acts as a blanket prohibition because it lacks any form of fair classification based on the nature of the crime committed or the length of the term given.