Should prisoners be allowed to vote?

In India, the citizens have their fundamental rights to make in form like rights to freedom, right to exploitation, privacy, equality, etc.. But the prisoners only have the right to defend himself, protection from torture, or right to food, water; even it they are treated as human being. They are not allowed to express and speak about their opinions towards the society work. They are not allowed to vote or to make legalized their right just because they are kept in prison or committing an act which is prohibited by law.

But our legal representatives whose have criminal suits on them are allowed to stand in election even. As an imprisonment in itself a punishment which impose the right of a liberty of a citizen which is obstructive and perceptible.
A long back when India got its independence on 1947, and it’s came up with the idea of democratic country which gives equal right to all. The issue raised over here to right to vote of prisoners whether a person who is in imprisoned is convicted or under-trial should be allowed to exercise their right or not.

When we talk about those rights ,there are some views which are in favour or in against. Through the research, it comes to know that who get bail in offence are allowed to vote but who can’t are not. If in case of offense punishable with death or imprisonment and if they managed to get the bail they can enforce their right but those who can’t manage cannot enforce their right even if they are in lawful or unlawful custody of police. Both the things are not justified that one can vote and the other not.

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This issue raised because this restrictions made them lesser citizen and put them outside the scope of benefits given to other citizen without there being so prominent need to do so. According to the data, percentage of votes casted is 63.3% in recent general election of 2019.But the reality is that around 4 lakh people in the country who are eligible to vote but don’t. Currently,1401 prisoners lived in India as a convict and under-trial .It is not because they don’t have voter id it is because they are prison.

It is an sarcasm of our India election law , that one can elect election in India behind bars , if your sentence is less than two years , but cannot vote. Mohammad Shahabuddin , one of India’s most scandalous criminal-politicians, the member of the Parliament from siwan, bihar with the rashtriya janta dal party of Lalu Prasad Yadav who is currently serving the life sentence for kidnapping with intent to murder and facing trial more than thirty criminal cases including eight murder , etc. and the part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance government of Manmohan Singh. This makes us to reconsider our law relating to prison reform and gives the character of being democratic.

In India, the person supposed for committing an offence has violated the right of some other bonafide citizen of India or committed a act against the state and so the rights of that person has grasped. A person who are not aware by the law or the value of the society are deserved to get the punishment like that by debarred from their right to say anything in democratic setup of the country.

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There are some restrictions imposed by Article 326 in Constitution of India for adult concession which states that the house of parliament and legislative assembly elections of a state depend on the adult concession which means that only those who have crossed the age of eighteen and do not have any criminal charges , and are not disqualified by law are allowed to practice their right to vote.
Under 62(5) of Representation of People Act ,1951 , by Indian legal system states that any person who is confined in a prison are bound to vote whether in under sentence or in the lawful custody of police.

Article 14 talks about that the state doesn’t contradict any person right before the law. Thus, Article 14 interpreted that should be treated alike, and provide the concept of reasonable justification. This article provides the basis to the prison authorities to determine the categories of prisoners and their classification with the object of their reformation.

Article 19 guarantees the six freedom of rights to all the citizens of India under Constitution of India. Some of the freedoms cannot be enjoyed by the prisoners because of their vary nature of these freedom.
Imprisoned in itself is an end of it’s own.

We can make an arrangement for the prisoners to vote by installing EVM machines within prison to cut down on safety and financial concern. When the other countries allowed the prisoners to vote if they are serving sentence for three years or less than that.

Provision of law allowed the prisoners to have job and occupation and even also allowed the prisoners to read books and give vocational and skill building courses. So, it’s irrational to not allowed to vote. Giving prisoners the right to vote would aid their important. Denying prisoners the right to vote would consider them lesser citizen. Giving voting rights to prisoners give them an interest to take a part in current affairs, which will aid their reinstated into society.

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An offender who is punished already for their crime under the law should not incur the additional punishment also by infringing the right. The principle aim of the modern criminal law is to refurbish offenders and orient them to positively toward the society by which they reenter their release. It is understandable by this policy of encouraging offenders to observe their civil and political obligations.

Finally, voting is an act that prioritize the value of order and the rule of law. By allowing the prisoners to vote , they are allowed to influence law and policy making in a positive manner.

Author: Prashanshu sharma,
Lloyd law college and 1st year /law

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