TIMES OF INDIA 19 JANUARY 2010
NEW DELHI: Why not change the age limit for contesting the Lok Sabha and assembly elections to 21 years from the stipulated 25 years, when the age for voting has been reduced from 21 years to 18 years?
On Monday, this question from a PIL by one Kumar Gaurav left a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and Deepak Verma thinking for a while. But, it countered the petitioner by asking: “What is the hurry? Why not have some experience of politics before entering the fray?”
Well the counsel for the petitioner was not to be deterred and said it was the people’s fundamental right to choose a profession and politics has become one. He said most of the countries around the world have reduced the age limit for people’s representatives to 18 years and India should follow suit.
The Bench said: “But this would require amendments to several Articles of the Constitution which prescribe the age limit. Can the Supreme Court do it? We do not have powers to reduce the minimum age stipulated for persons to contest Lok Sabha or assembly elections.”
When the petitioner insisted that the Supreme Court could do so by forcing the government to think about it, the Bench, in a lighter vein, said: “If we had the powers to force an amendment to the Constitution, then the first thing we probably would have done is to amend the retirement age of judges from 65 to 80 years.”
Though it dismissed the PIL, the factual position in various countries supported its stand, except probably in US where one has to be 25 years to be a Representative and 30 to be a Senator. In UK, anyone over the age of 18 years can stand for election to Parliament. The age was reduced from 21 years by the Electoral Administration Act of 2006. The position is identical in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany. However, in Canada one has to be 30 years to be a Senator.