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SY Quraishi Has a Fitting Reply for Amitabh Kant Who Says Non-Voters Should be Fined

Should voting be made compulsory in India? The former Chief Election Commissioner clarifies.

Jashodhara Mukherjee | News18.com

Updated:May 2, 2019, 12:03 PM IST
SY Quraishi Has a Fitting Reply for Amitabh Kant Who Says Non-Voters Should be Fined
Should voting be made compulsory in India? The former Chief Election Commissioner clarifies.

As the country gears up to elect its next Prime Minister, there has been a lot of hue and cry about individuals exercising their universal franchise or the right to vote. This time, a majority of voters are millennials, with at least 1 in 60 individuals voting aged between 18 to 19 years.

Now while voting is a fundamental right, it must be noted that an individual has the right to not cast his or her vote as well. As a matter of fact, that is what NOTA is for. For the unaware, the NOTA (short for 'None of the Above') is an option that is provided to voters in Indian elections. By opting for NOTA, an individual essentially asserts that he or she is practicing their right to vote but chooses to NOT cast his vote for any of the candidates. Instead, the voter casts his vote for NOTA.

Amitabh Kant, in a tweet, spoke about middle and upper classes being apathetic as far as the elections are concerned. He referred to the norms in Australia which state that voting is compulsory for any Australian citizen. In Australia, the failure to vote without a valid reason would be considered a violation of Section 245 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Violators are fined 20 dollars.

Kant feels that the same should be practiced in India as well.

The remark immediately sparked an outrage on Twitter, with several people negating his viewpoints.

But it was Dr. S.Y Quraishi, the former Chief Election Commissioner, who had the most fitting reply for Kant. "No Mr Kant, your right to vote includes the right not to vote. In NOTA judgement, SC has made it clear that it is your fundament right, while right to vote is a statutory right. Think of millions of daily wagers who will be harassed for non voting," Quraishi wrote on Twitter.

Naturally, several people supported his perspective:

Should 'voting' be a right or a duty? Should voting be made compulsory in India and violators fined? If yes, what would be the consequences in a country the size and diversity of India? The questions opens up a can of worms that Indians may not yet be ready to deal with.

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