From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article 32, 326
Mains level : Voting rights of Prisoners
- The Supreme Court is hearing a plea questioning an electoral law which denies undertrials and convicts their right to vote.
- The petition has been moved under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
Voting rights of Prisoners
- Section 62(5) of the RP Act of 1951 mandates 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”.
- The provisions however exempt a person held under preventive detention from this rigor.
Invokes violation of FR
- The petition highlights how the Section sees both an under-trial and a convicted person equally. The former’s guilt is yet to be proved in a court.
- A person is innocent until proven guilty by law. Despite this, it denies an under-trial the right to vote but allows a detainee the same. However, a person out on bail is allowed to cast his vote.
- The plea argued that the provision violates the rights to equality, vote (Article 326) and is arbitrary. It is not a reasonable restriction.
Article 32 of the Indian Constitution
- The right to move the SC by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights is guaranteed under this article.
- The SC shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs any of the FRs.
- Parliament can empower any other court to issue directions, orders and writs of all kinds (for HC, under 226).
- The right to move the Supreme Court shall not be suspended except by President during a national emergency (Article 359).
- Supreme Court has been vested with the powers for to provide a remedy for the protection of the FRs.
- Only FRs can be enforced under Article 32 and not any other like non-fundamental constitutional rights, statutory rights, customary rights etc.