The Delhi High Court, in the case of Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v Union of India & Ors denied a public interest litigation (PIL) plea brought by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay demanding mandatory voting in parliamentary and assembly elections. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad ruled that voting is an individual choice and that judges are not legislators who may issue such orders. The bench further stated it was unable to compel a person living in Chennai to return to his hometown of Srinagar and vote there.
Upadhyay contended in his petition that making voting compulsory will increase voter turnout, enhance political involvement, and improve the quality of democracy. It went on to say that mandatory voting ensures that political officials are chosen by a wider and more representative group of people, hence increasing the legitimacy of the government and the quality of democracy.
Upadhyay noted nations such as Australia, Belgium, and Brazil that have instituted compulsory voting and reported large increases in voter turnout and improvements in the quality of democracy. The PIL requested that the Central Government and the Election Commission of India (ECI) take efforts to enforce mandatory voting in Parliament and assembly elections. In addition, the petition asked the Court to order the ECI to use its plenary power under Article 324 of the Indian Constitution to boost voting percentages. Alternatively, it requested that the Law Commission submit a report on mandatory voting.