To ensure that all sections of the society participate in the electoral process, beggars, undertrials, and people without shelters are being brought into the election process across Karnataka by the Election Commission following a High Court order.
On April 4, 2018, the Democratic Ambassador for All India Rural Integrity (DAARI), requested the Election Commission to enrol beggars across the state as voters.
Ravi Bangera, the Convenor of DAARI, had written a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer, Sanjeev Kumar, pointing out that the 5% of the state’s population was begging for a living, and a majority of them aren’t registered or enrolled as voters. Bangera’s pertinent questions, including one that identified beggars as citizens of India, were also supported by facts like it is the duty of the Government to provide shelter to people, as mentioned in the Constitution.
Beggars are homeless, and a lack of a permanent address robs them of the chance to have a Voter ID. This vicious cycle seems to have been broken after the High Court ordered the Election Commission to take into account, the beggars and people without shelters.
The Chief Electoral Officer, spoke to The Hindu, revealing details of a survey to identify homeless people, to try and get them into the poll process. He claims to have received the order on Wednesday. Deputy Commissioners will identify such people, and steps will be taken to ensure they get cards so that they can be involved in the polling process.
Undertrials number in the thousands thanks to the time it takes for the judiciary to review cases and solve them and the Election Commission has been directed by the High Court to provide a voting facility for them as well.
Again, a survey for the same is being carried out, and a report will be submitted to the Election Commission of India. The Election Commissioner points out, the ambiguity in the law, with regards to undertrial prisoner’s voting rights. He says, that while those under preventive detention can vote, convicts cannot. The question of whether postal ballots can be given to undertrials is ambiguous.
Inclusiveness and diversity in Assembly Elections is a great step to ensure that those people have not voted, do so. Maybe, the correct people if voted into power, will consider the needs of beggars and undertrials, and provide the former with shelter, and the latter with the justice they can depend and rely on.