BJP Leader Ashwini Upadhyay Files PIL in Delhi HC Seeking Mandatory Voting in Elections

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New Delhi (India), March 15, 2023: The Delhi High Court is now seized of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking mandatory voting in parliamentary and assembly elections. The petitioner, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a prominent BJP leader and advocate, argues that “Compulsory voting would augment voter turnout, spur political participation, refine the quality of democracy, and safeguard the right to vote.”

The petitioner contends that “low voter turnout remains an enduring challenge in India” and that “mandating voting could alleviate this issue, particularly for underprivileged communities.”

In his submission, mandatory voting ensures that every citizen’s voice is heard and the government is representative of the people’s preferences. When voter turnout is high, governments are more accountable to the people and more likely to act in their best interests, he says.

Moreover, the petitioner maintains that compelling voting serves as a call to civic duty, elevating political involvement. According to Upadhyay, mandatory voting could overcome voter apathy, a significant problem in India. He asserts that it can revitalize faith in the democratic process and encourage citizens to become more involved in politics.

The plea posits that compelling voting ensures that elected representatives are chosen by a more substantial and representative group of people, which enhances the government’s legitimacy and the quality of democracy.

The petitioner refers to several countries, such as Australia, Belgium, and Brazil, which have implemented mandatory voting and have witnessed a significant rise in voter turnout and an improvement in the quality of democracy.

The PIL seeks direction from the central government and the Election Commission of India (ECI) to adopt measures to mandate voting in parliamentary and assembly elections. Alternatively, it requests the court to direct the ECI to utilize its plenary power under Article 324 of the Indian Constitution to augment voting percentages. Another relief sought is for the Law Commission to prepare a report on mandatory voting.

The PIL has put forward an interesting proposition that is worthy of consideration. The Delhi High Court’s view on the matter remains to be seen, but this could be a step towards a more participatory democracy, further reinforcing the idea that every vote counts.

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