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Lowering the Minimum Age for Contesting Election

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Election process

 

Source: IE

 Context: A Parliamentary panel has suggested lowering the minimum age for contesting in Assembly elections from 25 years to 18 years.

Benefits of Lowering Minimum Age Description
1. Youth Representation: This allows young individuals to participate actively in the political process and bring fresh perspectives to policy discussions. In countries like Canada, where the minimum age for candidacy in federal elections is 18, young leaders like Pierre-Luc Dusseault were elected to the House of Commons at a young age.
2. Enhanced Political Engagement: Encourages political awareness and involvement among youth, contributing to a more engaged and informed citizenry. The success of youth-led movements such as “March for Our Lives” in the United States demonstrates the political activism and engagement of young people.
3. Diverse Leadership: Promotes diversity in leadership by allowing representation from different age groups, backgrounds, and experiences. Young youth leaders will bring new energy and momentum to the parliamentary system.
4. Adaptation to Modern Challenges: Acknowledges that young candidates may have insights into contemporary issues like technology, climate change, and social justice. The committee pointed out that surveys show significant political awareness and knowledge among youth globally.

 

Drawbacks of Lowering Minimum Age:

Drawbacks Examples
1. Lack of Experience Young candidates might lack the experience and maturity required for effective decision-making and governance.
2. Limited Understanding Young candidates may have a limited understanding of the complexities of governance and public policy.
3. Vulnerability to Influence Young candidates might be more susceptible to external influence, as they may have less exposure to political dynamics.
4. Inadequate Preparedness Lowering the age might lead to unprepared candidates entering the political arena, resulting in ineffective representation.

 

Election Commission’s view:

The Election Commission disagreed with the proposal, stating that 18-year-olds might lack the necessary experience and maturity for such responsibilities.

 

Other proposals discussed by the committee:

  • Common Electoral Rolls: The committee discussed the concept of a common electoral roll for different types of elections but urged caution, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the principles of federalism.
    • Currently, some states utilize the Election Commission’s electoral rolls, while others do not
    • Implementing a common electoral roll, as proposed by the central government and ECI, is presently outside the scope of Article 325.
    • The committee expressed concern about the potential impact of a common roll on state powers listed under Chapters IX and IX A of the constitution.

 

  • Aadhaar and Voter ID linking: The committee expressed concerns about linking the Aadhaar and Voter IDs of non-citizens, suggesting the establishment of legal provisions to ensure non-citizens with Aadhaar are not included on electoral rolls.
  • Remote voting: The committee invited comments from political parties on Election Commission’s proposal for remote voting for internal migrants

 

Recommendations by the committee:

  • False declaration during nominations: The panel recommended increasing the punishment for filing a false affidavit from six months to up to two years, depending on the severity of the offence.
  • Section 125A of the Representation of People Act of 1951, deals with the penalties for providing false information.

 

Insta Links:

Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act

 

Mains Links:

With an increasing number of young leaders taking centre stage in the electoral discourse, Do you think the time has come to revisit the minimum age for contesting Lok Sabha elections? Provide your opinion and examine the pros and cons associated. (250 words)