Is voting a Fundamental Right? Here's what the Chief Justice of India said
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a petition seeking direction to the Election Commission to stop using Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in future elections.
The petitioner advocate CR Jaya Sukin was of the view that ballot papers, and not EVMs, should be used for elections. This matter was listed in front of the bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bodbe, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice V Ramasubramanian.
During the hearing, CJI Bodbe said that the court has already dismissed a plea relating to EVM, to which the petitioner replied that the situation is different now. CJI asked, "What is the question of fundamental right here? How is it violated?" to which Sukin contended that voting is a fundamental right.
"Take a copy of the Constitution and tell us where in Part III is it written that voting right is a fundamental right? You read before you argue," replied Bobde.
The Court then directed the petitioner to approach the High Court.
The right to vote has been recognised under the Article-326 of the Indian Constitution and is a Legal right, not a Fundamental Right. It is also not mentioned under the Part-III of the Constitution. Legal rights are the one's endowed to people from any statute enacted by the legislature.
According to the plea, EVMs must be replaced across the country with traditional ballot papers. The plea added, “Voting through ballot papers is a more reliable and transparent method for the electoral process of any country.” The petition also stated that the EVMs are prone to error, and countries including France, England, the United States, Netherlands, and Germany have already banned the use over doubts on accuracy and transparency.
Article 324 of the Indian Constitution states that elections conducted by the Election commission must fair, free, and reflect the voters' will, the plea stated. It added that developed countries banning EVMs are a clear sign that they are not safe and fair, and are prone to hacking. The EVMs can be "tampered during its manufacturing, and in such cases, it does not even require any hacker or malware to manipulate the actual voting."