Universal Adult Suffrage in India

The right of the people to vote and elect their representatives is called franchise. Adult franchise means that the right to vote should be given to all adult citizens without the discrimination of caste, class, colour, religion or sex. It demands that the right to vote should be equally available among all. To deny any class of persons from exercising this right is to violate their right to equality. the system of adult franchise is the bedrock of a democratic system. People are called political sovereign because they possess the right to vote a government into power, or to vote a government out of power

Universal adult franchise enables all citizens to be involved in the governance of their state. They do so by electing their representatives who govern to serve and protect the interests of the people.

Article 326

Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.— The elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; that is to say, every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than eighteen years of age on such date as may be fixed in that behalf by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature and is not otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or any law made by the appropriate Legislature on the ground of non-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice, shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at any such election.

Evolution

  • Paradoxically, our Constitution which provides for Universal adult suffrage was drafted by a Constituent Assembly that was composed of members elected by restricted franchise.
  • The Motilal Nehru report of 1928 advocated unlimited adult franchise and equal rights for women.
  • The resolution of the 1931 Karachi session of the Indian National Congress adopted a resolution on Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy which encapsulated the notion of universal adult franchise.
  • India adopted the principle of universal adult franchise when the present Constitution was enacted in 1949 which as you know was implemented on January 26, 1950.

World context

  • The western countries, which are known for their long experience of some sort of representative system of governance, introduced adult franchise only in the wake of the First World War (1914 – 18), a war which was proclaimed to be fought by the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France and United States and the allies) to make the ‘world safe for democracy’.
  • The ‘defeated’ Germany incorporated the principle of universal adult franchise in 1919, it took nine more years for Great Britain to Democracy at Work extend franchise to women in 1928. In 1918, Britain had granted franchise to limited number of women. It was decided that while all adult men, 21 years of age and above would have the right to vote, women only above the age of 30 years could possess the right to vote. This discrimination was removed only in 1928.
  • France, the land that gave the popular slogans of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, could introduce the right of universal adult franchise to its people only after the end of the Second World War i.e. 1945.
  • Switzerland, the home of direct democracy denied the right to vote to women till 1973.
  • India adopted the principle of universal adult franchise when the present Constitution was enacted in 1949 which as you know was implemented on January 26, 1950.

Age of voting across the world

  • The voting age varies from country to country.
  • In Denmark and Japan, a person, man or woman, is entitled to vote after attaining the age of 25 years.
  • In Norway, the age limit is 23, in Great Britain, the United States, Russia and Turkey it is 18.
  • In Switzerland, it is 20 years.
  • In our country, now the minimum age for exercising franchise is 18 years. The 61st Amendment Act lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years.

Comments

  • Mackintosh.Samantha
    Reply

    When a person starts to struggle from his own heart, he is a valuable person