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SC not in favour of making voting compulsory

April 17, 2009 20:02 IST

The impressive voter turn out in first phase of Lok Sabha polls propelled the Supreme Court on Friday to disfavour the idea of having a law to make it compulsory for citizens to exercise their franchise.

The voters turn out of 86 and over 73 per cent in Lakshwadeep and Kerala on Thursday was fresh in the minds of Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam to buttress their reasoning for not accepting the idea,

"The percentage of voting over the years have gone high and in some states like Kerala and others, there have been 86 per cent," the Bench said referring to reports about the first phase of voting in the Lok Sabha elections.

"The literacy rate is going up and people are conscious of their rights," the Bench observed ruling out the suggestions that water and electricity supply be snapped to compel voters from exercising their franchise.

"How can a voter be compelled? Can he be compelled physically to go to polling booths?" the Bench said during a hearing of PIL seeking to make voting compulsory.

"What could be the nature of compulsion to compel voters to vote?" the Bench wanted to know from the counsel who was arguing on the issue.

He said "power and water supply should be cut" to those who do no exercise their franchise and could also be asked to cough up penalties.

The PIL was filed by a cardiologist Atul Sarode who in his petition said compulsory voting is prevalent in 20 countries.

"What is this model to compel?" the Bench said and wanted to know from his counsel where was the material to suggest that compulsory voting was prevalent in several countries.

The counsel replied that it was prevalent in Australia and sought some more time to come before the court with materials, which was denied.

"You could have collected some material. This way, we are not going with your suggestion," the Bench said while declining to entertain the PIL.