GS Paper II
Syllabus : Constitutional bodies (powers, functions and responsibilities)
Source: Indian Express
Directions: This Article has been taken from the Indian Express . Go through it once, you can use it for value addition .
Context: Election Commission had signed MoUs with over 1,000 corporate houses undertaking to monitor the “electoral participation of their workforce” and publish on their websites and notice boards those who do not vote .
Cause of concern:
- These developments raise serious issues surrounding voters’ rights, compulsory voting, the secrecy of voting and debates around privacy and coercion .
Probable reasons behind lower voting:
- Migrant workers are not registered as voters at their place of work
- Out of conviction or for ideological reasons some people don’t vote .
- More importantly, there are millions of daily wage workers, and many homeless and ill.
How the above developments Violates the law of the land?
- Section 79 D of the Representation of People Act, 1951 defines “electoral right” to mean the right of a person to… vote or refrain from vote at an election”.
- The law completely enables, but does not force, citizens to vote.
- Section135B of the Representation of People Act, 1951, grants a paid holiday to every person employed in any business, trade, industrial undertaking or any other establishment.
- Employers at best can cut the wages of those who take leave but don’t go to vote.
- Article 14: Protection of the elector’s identity and affording secrecy is integral to free and fair elections and an arbitrary distinction between a voter who casts and a voter who does not cast his vote is violative of Article 14.
- Supreme court judgements: The Supreme Court, in PUCL vs Union of India, 2013, (popularly known as the NOTA judgment) has held that abstention from voting and negative voting is protected as freedom of expression — a fundamental right (Article 19).
How to enhance Voter participation:
- Systematic voter education, amply demonstrated by the ECI in elections in all the states and Union territories since 2010 when a voter education division was set up. This soon evolved into its SVEEP programme.
- In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the 67 . 3 per cent turnout beat all previous records. Many states have reached close to 90 per cent turnout and above.
- Motivation and facilitation: rather than compulsion, are the best ways to address the issue, has been clearly vindicated by ECI.
- Involving institutional participation: such schools and colleges to take the registration facility to the doorstep by introducing voter clubs, campus ambassadors and youth icons and placing drop boxes in colleges for new applications.
- Employers have been encouraged to create similar facilities in their offices.
- Strictly enforcing the law: Employers are legally obliged to close their establishments on poll day, but this is seldom enforced.
- Instead, employers are asked to allow the employees a couple of hours off to enable them to go and vote.
- About Election commission
- Difference between RPA 1951 and 1950.
- About SVEEP
- Model code of Conduct
Q. Discuss the role of the election commission of India in light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (UPSC MAINS 2022)
Q. What is SVEEP initiative of Election Commission of India? What are other ECI initiatives for Free and Fair Elections? Discuss.