Lowering the Minimum Age for Election Participation

  • A Parliamentary Standing Committee has suggested that the minimum age for competing Lok Sabha and Assembly elections be reduced to 18 years old, in line with the minimum voting age in India.
  • The Committee thinks that, with worldwide practises and increased political consciousness among youth, young people can be responsible political actors.

Minimum Age Requirements in Effect

  • Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections: A person must be at least 25 years old to contest elections to the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assembly, according to Article 84 of the Indian Constitution and Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council: To become a member of the Rajya Sabha or the State Legislative Council, a person must be at least 30 years old, according to Article 80(4) of the Constitution and Section 43 of the RP Act, 1951.

Evidence from Global Practises from the Parliamentary Committee:

  • The Committee cited instances from Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia of young people who have proven to be trustworthy and responsible political actors.
  • Youth Representation: It supports lowering the minimum age for candidature, noting global practises and young people’s growing political consciousness. It thinks that, as a result of greater education, globalisation, and digitization, young people are more than capable of standing for government in the twenty-first century.
  • Age Disparity: The Committee raised worry over the large age disparity between MPs and India’s median age, emphasising the need for more youth representation.
  • Diverse Points of View: According to the Committee, lowering the minimum voting age will offer new perspectives to policy debates and address the underrepresentation of young voices in the political sphere.

The Election Commission’s Point of View

  • Impractical Expectations: The European Commission opposes the proposal, claiming that expecting 18-year-olds to have the appropriate experience and maturity for legislative duties is impractical.
  • Current Age restrictions Appropriate: The EC finds that the current minimum voting and contesting age restrictions are adequate.

Actions Suggestions

  • Delimitation Process: The Committee recommends that the EC work with the legislative department to investigate the consequences of the delimitation process, particularly in difficult terrain. Treating all regions of India as if they were the same may cause problems, and appropriate steps should be implemented to meet this fact.
  • Common Electoral Rolls: The Committee emphasises the advantages of Common Electoral Rolls for State and Lok Sabha elections, which can be developed through the collaborative participation of officials from the ECI and State ECs.
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