The Supreme Court today issued a notice on a plea seeking voting rights for persons incarcerated in prisons. The PIL filed by one Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya challenges Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which denies prisoners of their voting rights.

The Bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi issued notice after the Petitioner submitted that more than 70% of prisoners are undertrial as per NCRB data.

The Court has issued notice returnable on December 29, 2022. The petition has been filed through Advocate Zoheb Hossain claiming that such deprivation of voting rights is manifestly arbitrary and violates the right to equality and vote.

Article 326 of the Constitution of India provides that elections shall be based on the basis of adult suffrage and a person's right to vote may be taken away by the Constitution or any law on the ground of non-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice.

Similarly, Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides that 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. However, the law allows a person detained under preventive detention law to vote.

On an earlier occasion, the Court had asked why the Petitioner (who was then a student at the National Law School India University at Bengaluru) was interested in this particular subject and why he has moved the petition under Article 32. The Court had, however, clarified that its queries had nothing to do with the merits of the petition.

Cause Title: Aditya Prasanna Bhattacharya v. Union of India (W.P.(C) No. 462/2019)