In Brief: Undertrials and Covicts: Fundamental Right, Right to equality, Right to Constitutional Remedies

Headline : Plea in SC on voting rights of undertrials and convicts

Details :

The News

  • Recently a plea has been filed in the Supreme Court under Article 32 challenging an electoral law denying undertrials and convicts their right to vote.


Provision violating the right to equality

  • Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act of 1951 : The provision deprives any person confined to a prison of the right to vote at any election.
  • Issues:
    • In addition to convicts (a person found guilty of a criminal offence and serving a sentence of imprisonment), the law prohibits voting right to even under-trials (a person who is being held in custody awaiting trial for a crime ) , whose innocence or guilt has not been conclusively determined.
    • Moreover, a convicted person on bail still enjoys his voting right.
  • Since Section 62(5) deprive any confined person of the right to vote in an arbitrary manner, it violates the rights to equality(Article 14) and vote (Article 326).

Note: Section 62(5) of the RPA, exempt a person held under preventive detention.

Article 14: Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides for equality before the law or equal protection within the territory of India.

Article 326: Article 326 of the Constitution provides for elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of universal adult suffrage.


About Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

  • Article 32 gives right to an individual to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights, including the writs of:
    • Habeas corpus
    • Mandamus
    • Prohibition
    • Certiorari
    • Quo warento
  • It has been referred as the “soul of the constitution and very heart of it” by Dr. Ambedkar.
  • Supreme Court has included it in basic structure doctrine, which cannot be abridged or taken away even by the way of Constitutional amendment.
  • However, the right is suspended at the time of national emergency (Article 359).

Note: The High Courts also have the power to issue writs under article 226.

Section : Polity & Governance