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New Delhi : The Election Commission of India (ECI) on July 6, 2017, maintained that in its opinion voting or not voting as per his/her own free will in the Presidential election will not come within the ambit of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of  the Constitution of India and the electors are at liberty to vote or not to vote at the Presidential election as per their own free will and choice.

The Commission would like to clarify in this context that the voting in the election to the Office of President of India is not compulsory, like the voting at elections to the House of the People and State Legislatures where also there is no compulsion to vote. The ‘electoral right’ of a voter is defined in section 171A(b) of the Indian Penal code to ‘mean the right of a person to stand, or not to stand as, or to withdraw from being, a candidate or to vote or refrain from voting at election’. Thus, every elector at the Presidential election has the freedom of making a choice to vote for any of the candidates or not to vote at the election, as per his free will and choice, according to a PIB release.

This will equally apply to the political parties and they are free to canvas or seek votes of electors for any candidate or requesting or appealing to them to refrain from voting. However, the political parties can’t issue any direction or whip to their members to vote in a particular manner or not to vote at the election leaving them with no choice, as that would tantamount to the offence of undue influence within the meaning of section 171C of the IPC, according to theEC.

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