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'A matter of choice,' Delhi HC declines to consider plea on compulsory voting

By Lawstreet News Network      Mar 17, 2023      0 Comments
'A matter of choice,' Delhi HC declines to consider plea on compulsory voting

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL for compulsory voting in Parliamentary and Assembly polls, saying judges are not lawmakers to pass such a direction and voting is a matter of choice.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad told petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay the court cannot force a man in Chennai to go back to his home in Srinagar to cast his vote.

Upadhyay, for his part, said he would not press his prayer.

Expressing concern over filing such PILs, the court said it would impose cost if the plea was not withdrawn.

The petitioner then preferred to withdraw his plea.

The PIL sought a direction to the Centre and Election Commission of India to take steps for compulsory voting in Parliament and Assembly elections in order to enhance voter’s turnout, promote political participation, improve quality of democracy and secure the right to vote.

In a PIL, advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said alternatively, the Court may direct the Election Commission of India to use its plenary power under Article 324 of the Constitution to increase voting percentage. Or the Court may direct the Law Commission to prepare a report on compulsory voting.

It also said compulsory voting has been implemented successfully in other countries, including Australia, Belgium, and Brazil.

The petitioner also cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified, recognised the right to vote and the obligation of citizens to exercise it.

The plea also cited opinions of Justice V R Krishna Iyer and Prof Upendra Baxi who supported the proposition of compulsory voting.

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