Supreme Court: Persons in lawful custody not entitled to vote/contest elections
Upholding a 2004 judgement of Patna High court, the Supreme Court has held that persons in lawful custody – whether convicted in a criminal case or otherwise – cannot contest polls. However, the ruling does not apply to those on bail.
What is the matter?
The Chief Election Commissioner and others had filed a appeals against a Patna High Court judgement that in 2004 had held that when a person in custody is disqualified from voting he or she must be disqualified from contesting in elections too. Calling the High Court’s decision right the apex court held that a person who has no right to vote by virtue of the provisions of Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 is not an elector and is therefore not qualified to contest the election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of a State. Besides, the court said “A right to vote is a statutory right, the Law gives it, the Law takes it away. Persons convicted of crime are kept away from elections to the Legislature, whether to State Legislature or Parliament and all other public elections. The Law temporarily takes away the power of such persons to participate in elections. To vote is a statutory right. It is a privilege to vote, which privilege may be taken away. In that case, the elector would not be qualified, even if his name is on the electoral rolls.