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Apex court: Those in jail can’t vote, contest polls 
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 11
The Supreme Court has upheld a 2004 Patna High Court verdict debarring those in lawful police custody and serving jail terms from voting or contesting elections to Parliament and Assemblies even if they are enrolled as voters.

A Bench comprising Justices AK Patnaik and SJ Mukhopadhaya in an order yesterday pointing out that the “right to vote” as defined in sub-section (5) of Section 62 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 had made it clear 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”.

But this provision does not prevent those “under preventive detention under any law for the time being in force” from voting or contesting election, the SC clarified.

The HC had delivered the verdict on a petition filed by an NGO, Jan Chaukidar (Peoples Watch), and others. This was challenged in the SC immediately by the Chief Election Commissioner and others.

“We do not find any infirmity in the findings of the HC that a person who has no right to vote by virtue of the provisions of sub-section (5) of Section 62 of the 1951 Act 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. These civil appeals are accordingly dismissed,” the apex court ruled.

Verdict upheld

  • Upholding Patna HC verdict, SC says ‘right to vote’ as defined under the Representation of People Act, 1951 bars people in police custody or serving jail term from voting or contesting polls
  • But it clarifies that the provision does not disqualify those under preventive detention from voting or contesting election 





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