Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Contesting Polls and Voting Rights from Prison

GS-2 Mains : Polity 

Revision Notes

Why in News?

  • Delhi Chief Minister received interim bail to join his party’s campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections until June 1.


  • Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain (1975): Supreme Court recognized free and fair elections as part of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India (2006): Supreme Court ruled that the right to vote and the right to be elected are statutory rights, not fundamental rights, and can be regulated by parliamentary laws.

Bar Against Contesting Elections

  • Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951: Disqualifies individuals convicted of certain offenses from contesting elections.
  • Conditions:
    • No bar on contesting elections unless convicted.
    • Disqualification lasts up to 6 years post the jail term.
    • Disqualification does not apply if only charged, not convicted.
  • Exceptions:
    • The Election Commission of India (ECI) can “remove” or “reduce” the disqualification period under Section 11 of the RP Act.
    • Supreme Court Ruling (2019): Disqualification does not apply if the conviction is stayed.

Bar Against the Right to Vote

  • Article 326 of the Constitution: Grants voting rights based on adult suffrage.
  • Section 62 of the RP Act: Imposes restrictions on voting rights.
    • Sub-clause (5): Bars individuals in prison or lawful police custody from voting, except those in preventive detention.
    • Effectively prevents individuals with criminal charges from voting unless bailed or acquitted.

Key Supreme Court Case

  • Anukul Chandra Pradhan v. Union of India (1997):
    • Upheld Section 62(5) of the RP Act, rejecting the challenge on four grounds:
      1. Voting is a statutory right subject to statutory limitations.
      2. Resource constraints for providing infrastructure and police deployment.
      3. Individuals in prison cannot claim equal freedom of movement, speech, and expression.
      4. Restrictions are reasonable to keep individuals with a criminal background away from elections.

Key Points and Figures

  • Free and Fair Elections: Integral to the Constitution’s basic structure.
  • Statutory Rights: Voting and being elected are statutory, not fundamental rights.
  • Representation of People Act: Central legislative framework governing electoral disqualifications and voting restrictions.
  • Judicial Precedents: Landmark cases reinforce the distinction between statutory and fundamental rights concerning electoral participation.


The regulation of electoral participation through statutory provisions aims to ensure integrity in the election process, balancing individual rights with public interest and resource limitations. The framework seeks to maintain free and fair elections while keeping the electoral field free from undue influence by individuals with criminal backgrounds.



Source : https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2024/May/23/wont-resign-because-it-will-set-precedent-give-bjp-free-hand-to-target-opposition-cms-kejriwal

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