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SC notice to Centre, EC on PIL to ensure maximum voting

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre and the Election Commission on a PIL seeking a direction to them to frame guidelines to ensure that more citizens cast their votes in the polls. A bench of justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde issued notices to the poll panel on the PIL that has sought directions for ensuring that maximum number of adult citizens "exercise their right to cast votes."

The plea, filed by Satya Praksah, said the concept of mandatory voting is successful in countries like Argentina, Australia, Belgium and Brazil and can be implemented in India as well.

The citizens here "enjoy" various fundamental rights under the Constitution, but the accountabilities do not include the responsibility to cast the votes, it said adding that low voters' turn out is still a matter of concern.

The Central government had earlier appointed a panel to suggest on the issue of fundamental duties of the citizens and the committee headed by Justice J S Verma, in its report in 1998, had said the "duty to vote in an election, especially to participate in a democratic process of the government and pay taxes, should be included in Article 51A of the Constitution."

The PIL has also referred to the Gujarat Local Authority Laws (Amendment) Bill that had the provision to make voting compulsory and the persons, who do not vote, were required to explain within 30 days about the reasons for not doing so to avoid punishment.

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