Site Meter

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Those behind bars cannot vote: Poll panel

Those behind bars cannot vote: Poll panel

TNN | Mar 13, 2011, 01.17am IST

: Should prisoners be allowed to vote? The controversy was raked up once again as one Ramprasad Sarkar filed a case before Calcutta high court seeking voting rights for prisoners, making the state chief electoral office start looking into Election Commission's guidelines to reason why that was not possible.

Officer on special duty (OSD), state electoral office, N K Sahana, referred to the recent high court case and said, "When the case was filed, we referred the matter to the Election Commission and looked up our guidelines as well. We have found that those in custody cannot vote. This has been clearly depicted in the Election Commission's norms in its Section 49 O'."

As state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta sent the matter to the commission, the latter has said in its reply that prisoners did not have voting rights. The commission has cited Section 62/5 of the Representation of People's (RP) Act, 1951 to substantiate. It has also cited a Supreme Court ruling on the matter where the apex court has ruled that prisoners shouldn't be allowed to vote in the interest of the public.

However, those detained in the Preventive Detention Act could be given postal ballots. The CEO has found out that the state in its 54 prisons with more than 20,000 prisoners did not have a single preventive detention over the last two years. Officials in the state CEO will submit the above findings before the high court when the matter comes up for hearing.

ADG, prisons, B D Sharma, had, however taken up the matter last February, sending a note to the state home department, saying 20,000 prisoners in 54 prisons of the state would be able to exercise their franchise if the state allowed them to vote. The home department was requested to take the matter up with the state election commission, which, in turn, cited the above reasoning.

No comments: