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  • Context (BAB): Manipur HC held that the right to vote is a fundamental right.
  • Currently, the right to vote is a constitutional right, not a fundamental right.
  • Manipur HC observed that:
    • Casting of votes is a part of the voter’s right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of IC.
    • Voter’s right to know the antecedents, including the criminal past of the candidate contesting election for MP or MLA, is much more fundamental and basic for the survival of democracy.

Right to Vote under IC

  • The right to vote is constitutional under Article 326 of IC.
  • By the Sixty-first constitutional amendment act of 1988, the voting age of elections to the LS and legislative assemblies of States has been lowered from 21 to 18 years.
  • To exercise this right, the country’s citizens must attain the age of 18.

The debate around Right to Vote

  • The legal character of the right to vote has been debatable since the time of the inception of IC.
  • In Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India (March 2023):
    • The majority judgement held that the right to vote is constitutional.
    • In his separate opinion, Justice Ajay Rastogi said that the right to vote is a fundamental right.

Article 19 of IC: Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.

  • Article 19 (1) (a): All citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 19 (2): The state can make laws to impose reasonable restrictions on this right in the interests of:
    • The sovereignty and integrity of India
    • The security of the State
    • Friendly relations with foreign States
    • Public order, decency, or morality
    • In relation to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to an offence.
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