THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as two prison inmates are gearing up to contest the local body poll, right to vote still remains as a distant dream for the 7,000-plus prisoners in the state.
Except for widespread debates and even a positive response by home minister Ramesh Chennithala in the Assembly in this regard, no serious efforts have been made by any sections to grant voting rights to prisoners, including those on remand and undertrials.
At present, 7,213 inmates are in the 55 prisons across the state. A major chunk of them are undertrials, 4,586, who even do not have the option to exercise franchise.
In the previous Assembly session, the home minister had said that the government would examine the long-pending demand for voting rights to prisoners.
He had said, “Since the government has decided to give voting rights to pravasis, voting rights for prisoners could be also considered.”
But the home minister now says that no further steps could be initiated in this regard. “It is a serious issue that requires detailed discussions at the higher level. At present, it is not under consideration,” Mr Chennithala told DC.
Two CPM activists from Kannur, Karayai Rajan and Karayai Chandrasekharan, who are accused in murder cases, are now preparing to contest the poll.
But if they are in prison at the time of polling, they too may not get the chance to vote. In case they win, they may not get any legal advantages in securing bail and will have to carry out their responsibilities as people’s representatives from prisons, state election commission sources said....