UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Dec 20

20 December 1988

61st Amendment Act 1988


What happened?

On 20 December 1988, the Rajya Sabha passed the 61st Amendment Act which reduced the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 years.

Background

  • Article 326 of the Constitution of India deals with elections to the Houses and to the State Legislative Assemblies on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
  • The article before being amended by the 61st Amendment stated that any citizen of India who is 21 years or above, and who is not disqualified on any other grounds such as non-residence, crime, corrupt or illegal practices or unsoundness of mind, is eligible to vote at an election.
  • The proposal to reduce the voting age to 18 years was brought about to increase the participation of the youth in the electoral process of the country.
  • Today, in India about 52 lakh voters are 18 years of age and they do play a decisive role in the outcome of the elections happening in India.
  • In 2011, there was a talk of reducing the age further to 16 years but nothing has come of it so far.
  • The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 13th December 1988 by the then Water Resources Minister B. Shankaranand.
  • It was debated and passed by the lower house on 15th The Rajya Sabha passed the bill on 20th December. As per law, more than half the state legislatures had to ratify the bill and this was duly obtained. Only five states, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu and Tripura did not ratify.
  • The bill received the presidential assent on 28th March 1989 when the then President R Venkataraman assented it.
  • Thus, the act came into force on 28th March 1989 and from that day onwards, any citizen who is otherwise qualified could participate in the democratic processes in India from the age of 21 years.
Also on this day

1915: Death of Upendrokishore Ray, famous Bengali writer, painter, instrumentalist, technologist and composer. 1942: Japanese forces bomb the city of Calcutta during the Second World War. 1993: Death of Colonel Neelakantan Jayachandran Nair while fighting insurgents in Nagaland. He fought courageously defending his men and was martyred. He was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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