Skip to content

 VOTING RIGHT IN INDIA

THIS ARTICLE IS WRITTEN BY ADITI TIWARI ,COURSE :BALLB (HONS.),MANIPAL UNIVERSITY JAIPURDURING HER INTERNSHIP AT LEDROIT INDIA

  ABSTRACT

This article will deal briefly about What is Vote, What are Voting Rights, voting is a fundamental right Historical Development of Voting Rights in India ,61st Constitutional amendment and Voting Rights of India compared to other countries

KEYWORDS

  • Vote
  • Voting rghts
  • 61st amendment act
  • Fundamental rights

INTRODUCTION – WHAT DOES RIGHT TO VOTE MEANS

The Indian citizens are entitled to many rights under the Indian Constitution. Three categories of rights exist: statutory rights, fundamental rights, and constitutional rights. The rights listed in Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution are known as the Fundamental Rights, and they include the freedoms of speech, life, movement, trade, and profession, equality, and more. These rights are unalienable and cannot be taken away from or taken by the state. The rights granted to Indian citizens in addition to Fundamental Rights are known as Constitutional Rights. These are the rights guaranteed to Indian citizens as stated in the Constitution; nevertheless, Part III of the document omits any reference of them. Among these rights are the rights to property, contracts with the government, and so forth. The Parliament of India has the authority to pass laws that govern Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Constitution. In addition, a great deal of legislation places obligations and rights on people. Statutory rights are these rights that are derived from a statute. These rights include the ability to vote, enter into contracts, be eligible for Income Tax Act deductions, and more.

                                        What is India’s voting rights?
Casting a ballot, raising your hand, stating your opinion out loud, or any other method of expressing a political opinion for or against someone or something is called voting. A majority vote can be used to formally express support or opposition to a motion (such as a proposed resolution), a ballot question, a specific candidate, group of candidates, or political party. Voters and/or elected representatives may express one, some, or all of their preferences through a preferential vote. Voting is used in many countries during elections as a way to protect voters’ political privacy and prevent voter intimidation.

The Constitution’s Article 326 guarantees the right to vote. According to Article 326 of the Constitution, adult choice is used to determine the results of all state legislative assembly and Lok Sabha elections. It also suggests that a candidate must be at least 21 years old in order to be able to run for office in the Lower House of Parliament or the Legislative Assembly. The age restriction was further modified and lowered to 18 years old by the 61st Amendment to the Indian Constitution.

The most significant feature of Indian government is the right to vote, which is regarded as the foundation of democracy. The ability for citizens to engage in national decision-making is made possible by the right to vote, which is an essential component of democracy. The right to vote in India, its background, its importance in a democracy such as India, and the laws supporting this constitutional right will all be covered in this article.

Who can vote in india?

There are specific requirements outlined in our Indian Constitution to be eligible to vote in our country.
One needs to be an Indian citizen

Be older than eighteen.
Need to be mentally sound.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF VOTING RIGHTS IN INDIA

One may argue that India’s first general elections in 1951 marked the country’s official entry onto the international scene. It was only the start of India’s journey to become the true champion of democratic values, not only in South Asia but throughout the world. However, the process through which India reached there wasn’t easy. The proportion of Indian natives who cast ballots overall was much lower than the country’s actual population until 1946. A few legislative reforms including the Morley-Minto Reforms were made possible by the Indian Councils Act of 1901. The privilege of choosing one’s own representative was granted to very few privileged people. Still, it was a beginning.

The Government of India Act of 1919 brought even more significant changes. Following the model and structure of the Upper and Lower Houses, the government was divided into two bodies: the Council of State and the Central Legislative Assembly. Only those who met specific eligibility requirements, such as land ownership, property ownership, income payment, and municipal tax payment, were granted the right to vote. This made it easier for landowners and those with significant balances to maintain control over power. British control gave rise to the women’s suffrage movement, and after the British government enacted reforms in the 1920s, some women were granted the right to vote. However, universal suffrage did not become applicable until after India attained independence and the Indian constitution was put into effect in the 1950s. The question of whether the constitution went into force on January 26, 1950, is up for discussion. It wasn’t until after the 1951–1952 elections that these privileges were fully implemented. This included the freedom to run for office. It is accurate to assume that only a small number of women, who were also able to vote prior to 1951 because of property rights and marriage associations,

The British government gave women who owned property limited suffrage in 1918, but despite petitions being filed all over the world, British residents living elsewhere were not covered by this law. Women’s voting rights petitions were brought before the joint committee of the House of Lords and Commons in 1919. The Government of India Act of 1919 gave the provincial council the authority to determine whether or not women could vote as long as they satisfied certain requirements related to their property, income, and education, even though they were not given the ability to vote or run for office.

The Simon Commission was tasked with creating the New India Act in 1927, but nationalists advised against it as the commission lacked any Indian members. The extension of voting rights was still on the commission’s agenda. Although they suggested lowering the voting age to 21, the woman’s eligibility was still based on her marital status and level of education. Additionally, it gave women’s and ethnic groups preferential quotas. “The Government of India Act 1935 included these recommendations. There weren’t many women who were able to vote prior to 1951. Even though this act increased voting rights, only 2.5 percent of India’s female population was able to participate. Women were given 15 seats in the Constituent Assembly of India in 1946, and they participated in the constitution-writing process. The parliament reached a basic consensus on universal suffrage in 1947. But now, the dynamics are different. Women used to vote at a significantly lower rate than men in the early decades, with the difference often being between 14 and 15%. However, the difference began to close gradually, and by the 1990s, it was still about 10%. The difference was 1.6% in 2014. Men and women barely had a disparity in 2019.

Evaluation of the Indian Constitution’s 61st Amendment

The 61st Amendment, which reduced the voting age in India from 21 to 18, is a noteworthy turning point in the democratic history of the nation. It was the result of a protracted battle that began in the 1960s when civil society organisations and young people began advocating for the right to vote. The amendment was passed in 1989, during the Rajiv Gandhi administration. It was a historic choice with far-reaching effects. Every citizen must have the chance to exercise their fundamental right to vote. Voting is one of democracy’s most important rights. When India’s Constitution was ratified in 1950, the voting age was originally set at 21. During Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership in the early 1970s, the idea of lowering the voting age was first proposed. But at the time, the idea did not really take off. The debate over lowering the voting age did not pick up steam again until the 1980s. This time, the matter was raised by India’s Prime Minister at the time, Rajiv Gandhi. He suggested several reforms, one of which was to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18. There were those who opposed the proposal to reduce the voting age. The government nevertheless moved forward with the plan in spite of the criticism, and the 61st Amendment was presented in 1988. By lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, the proposed amendment would enable millions of young people to take part in the democratic process. This time, the matter was raised by India’s Prime Minister at the time, Rajiv Gandhi. He suggested several reforms, one of which was to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18. There were those who opposed the proposal to reduce the voting age. The government nevertheless moved forward with the plan in spite of the criticism, and the 61st Amendment was presented in 1988. By lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, the proposed amendment would enable millions of young people to take part in the democratic process.

India saw a number of social and political movements in the years after independence that aimed to promote increased political representation and participation while also addressing the issues of marginalised groups. Among these movements were the youth, women’s, and anti-caste movements. The exclusion of young adults from the political process and the underrepresentation of their concerns in the media prompted the youth movement in particular. .The 1960s and 1970s saw a rise in the youth movement as young adults became more involved in and conscious of politics. Widespread student protests, demonstrations, and rallies demanding greater representation and participation in the democratic process took place during the turbulent years between 1971 and 1975, which culminated in the suspension of democratic rights and processes with the declaration of national emergency in 1975. A sense of dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs and a desire for change propelled the movement . One of the main demands of the youth movement was to lower the voting age. Young adults should be permitted to take part in the democratic process since they are old enough to vote, pay taxes, and enlist in the military. Politicians, academics, and civil society organisations all backed the demand, arguing that lowering the voting age would encourage young adults to participate in politics more and be represented in them.

As more state governments started lowering the voting age for local elections in the 1980s, the push to lower the voting age gained traction. These campaigns were effective in raising young adults’ involvement in the political process and garnering public support for a change at the federal level. Political parties also raised the issue, and a number of well-known figures—including Rajiv Gandhi—expressed support for the demand . It’s also important to remember that this change was already adopted internationally in the early 1970s by a number of nations, including the US. Campaigns and demonstrations were launched by civil society and youth organisations to put pressure on the government to reduce the voting age. The Indian Constitution’s 61st Amendment, which reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 years old, was proposed in 1989. With resounding support from both chambers of parliament, the amendment was approved, demonstrating the widespread agreement that young adults should have more representation and opportunities in politics. On March 28, 1989, the amendment became operative.

                Comparing voting rights in different countries

INDIA

India has 800 million eligible voters, making it the largest democracy in the world. But that isn’t always the case for the Muslim minority in the nation. The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was passed by Indian lawmakers in December 2019, changed the nation’s citizenship law, which forbade immigrants who entered the country without proper documentation from obtaining Indian citizenship. Many citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were now able to apply for Indian citizenship thanks to the new bill, but only if they identified as Buddhist, Jian, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, or Sikh-Parsi.

The bill excludes Muslims, who make up the majority of minority population in India, as well as a religious minority that has faced persecution in neighbouring nations, most notably Myanmar, where the UN reports that Rohingya Muslims are being subjected to a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The right to vote has also been denied to Muslims who hold Indian citizenship. Absent In the 2019 national election, voters estimated that approximately 120 million citizens were absent from voter lists; over half of these individuals were Muslims or Dalits from lower castes. Additionally, women were disproportionately impacted.

AUSTRIA

In the 1980s, Brazil and Nicaragua lowered the legal voting age to 16, but Austria was the first nation in the EU to do the same more recently. Austria’s voter base increased by 200,000 when it decided to allow its 16-year-old citizens to vote in 2007, according to the Independent.
The goal of the initiative was to counteract the nation’s fast ageing population while also enticing Austrians to enter politics at a younger age. However, detractors cautioned that 16 to 17-year-olds lack the maturity to make thoughtful, well-informed decisions regarding politics.
Despite the backlash, many other nations are now considering adopting the same change as Austria. In 2018, Malta became the second EU member state to allow 16-year-olds to vote. Additionally, Scotland and Wales in the UK now have a 16-year-old voting age.

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi women were allowed to vote and run for office in 2015. According to BBC News, roughly 130,000 women registered to vote in their first election, and 978 of them registered to run as candidates. The 2015 election was a historic occasion that signalled advancements for women’s rights in the nation, despite the fact that this still stands in sharp contrast to the 1.35 million male voters who were registered to vote and the 5,938 men who registered to run for office that year.

Since then, Saudi Arabian women have gradually increased their rights and achieved successes. In 2016, a petition calling for the abolition of the nation’s male guardianship system was signed by close to 15,000 women. Women were granted the ability to drive two years later, and the ability to apply for a passport and travel overseas without the consent of a male relative came about a year later.
But guardianship laws still control a lot of other facets of a woman’s life, making it difficult for her to get married, get out of jail, or even leave an abuse victim’s shelter.

BOLIVIA

Bolivia, like many other Latin American nations, has made voting mandatory. This country’s 1952 election mandate law mandates that every citizen cast a ballot. Even though it is mandated in 27 nations worldwide, voting isn’t always upheld. However, in Bolivia, if a voter cannot provide documentation of their vote-taking within three months of the election, they risk fines and possibly losing their job. Voters receive a card as identification of their participation after casting their ballot, allowing the government to keep an eye on this. Mandatory voting proponents contend that voting increases the legitimacy of democratic governments and that voting, mandatory or not, contributes to the development of better-educated citizens. One of the main arguments against mandatory voting is that it goes against the democratic ideal of freedom.

BURKINA FASO

Following nearly three decades of semi-authoritarian governance under former President Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso commenced its democratic transition in November 2015 with its inaugural free and fair election. As a result, it is currently one of the world’s youngest democracies.Still, the country has not had an easy beginning. An unprecedented terrorist attack struck the country shortly after the first election. Following the initial destruction, the government concentrated on bolstering national security and has not adequately addressed the problems of hunger and poverty in the country.

Another important topic is women’s rights. Amnesty International reports that despite the legal protection of gender equality, forced and early marriage, domestic abuse, and female genital mutilation are commonplace practices. Though there is currently a dearth of female representation in the nation’s political parties and parliament, there is cause for optimism as young women are starting to get more involved in politics.

UNITED STATES

Despite being renowned throughout the world for its democratic values, the United States of America still faces challenges with voting rights equality. Despite years of activism and significant advancements, historically marginalised groups such as Native Americans, Black Americans, and others still experience voter suppression. Although the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a historic ruling that extended women’s and people of color’s ability to vote, states persisted in restricting Black Americans’ ability to cast ballots by imposing poll taxes, holding literacy tests, and using physical violence. Other underrepresented communities’ votes were suppressed using similar strategies.

The Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision—which required federal approval for changes to local election laws—was struck down by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, which brought voter suppression to a head in 2013. Since then, voting restrictions have been implemented in more than 25 states. These include new voter ID laws, restrictions on voter registration, and voter purges, all of which have made it more challenging for marginalised populations to exercise their fundamental right to vote. The Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill that would reinstate the original amendment and move the US closer to an inclusive democracy, is currently being considered by Congress.

CONCLUSION

The Indian Constitution recognises the right to vote as a crucial fundamental right in India. This right is founded on universal adult suffrage, which grants the right to vote to all citizens who are eighteen years of age or older, irrespective of their gender, race, religion, or social class. A number of provisions are included in the Indian Constitution to support and safeguard the right to vote, including the allocation of seats to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the authority of the Election Commission of India to oversee and manage free and fair elections, and the entitlement to equal protection under the law and equality before the law. A broader spectrum of citizens have been granted the right to vote over time, and the Right to Information Act has contributed to greater electoral transparency. Voting rights have experienced substantial historical development in India and have been instrumental in forming the nation’s democratic system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *