Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL seeking compulsory voting in Parliament, Assembly polls
Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL seeking compulsory voting in Parliament, Assembly polls

Photo Credit: IANS


New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to hear a PIL moved by BJP leader and practicing lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking compulsory voting in Parliament and Assembly elections.

Upadhyay had moved the plea on Wednesday.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said that voting is a choice and judges are not lawmakers who can pass such directions.

The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, said that it cannot force a person in Chennai to come back to his home town in Srinagar and vote there.

To Upadhyay saying that he will not press his prayer for compulsory voting, the CJ remarked: "It can't be that when you are confronted with something, you will say you are not pressing it."

The bench further remarked that if the plea is not withdrawn, it will impose costs.

The petitioner then proceeded to withdraw his PIL.

Upadhyay, with an aim to increase the voters' turnout, promote political participation, improve the quality of democracy and to secure the right to vote, had also sought direction from the Law Commission to prepare a report on 'Compulsory Voting'.

According to his plea, the low voter turnout is a persistent problem in India and compulsory voting can help resolve this, particularly among the marginalised communities.

"It ensures that every citizen has a voice and that the government is representative of the people's wishes. When voter turnout is high, the government is more accountable to the people and is more likely to act in their best interests," the PIL stated.

"Compulsory voting ensures that the elected representatives are chosen by a larger and more representative group of people. This increases the legitimacy of the government and enhances the quality of democracy," the plea further stated.

It has been said that when voter turnout is low, the government may not be representative of the people's wishes, and this can lead to a lack of trust in the democratic process.

"Compulsory voting can help to ensure that the government is truly representative of the people," it said.

The plea further stated that 'Compulsory Voting' is in practice in many countries.

"The Constitution provides for the right to vote as a fundamental right under Article 326. This right is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law. Compulsory voting can be implemented as reasonable restriction in the interest of ensuring the smooth functioning of democracy. The Supreme Court has also held that the right to vote is a statutory right, and the government has the power to impose reasonable restrictions on this right," it added.



Update: 17-March-2023