Congress hails Gujarat HC stay on voting rule; Govt vows legal fight

 Opposition Congress on Friday hailed the Gujarat High Court's stay order on compulsory voting rule in civic body polls, but the BJP Government vowed to "not give up legal fight" over the matter and "exhaust all remedies" available.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 21, 2015, 21:12 PM IST

Ahmedabad: Opposition Congress on Friday hailed the Gujarat High Court's stay order on compulsory voting rule in civic body polls, but the BJP Government vowed to "not give up legal fight" over the matter and "exhaust all remedies" available.

Congress said the stay on the mandatory voting law was "a blow to the BJP-led autocratic regime" in the State.

"We will go through it (the HC order) and take further action. We are not going to give up. This is just a stay, not a final order. We will definitely fight the case till the end," Government spokesperson and Health Minister Nitin Patel told PTI.

Asked if the BJP Government will challenge the stay order before the Supreme Court, Patel said the administration will exhaust "all legal remedies" in the case.

The Congress, which had voted against the Bill on compulsory voting when it was brought in the Assembly, welcomed the stay.

"Congress welcomes the High Court order staying the implementation of Gujarat Local Authorities (Amendment) Act, 2009. This is a big blow to the BJP regime, which on the basis of majority (in Assembly), enacted this undemocratic Act to make voting compulsory in civic body polls," Manish Doshi, State Congress spokesperson, said.

"The act of imposing compulsory voting is a violation of fundamental rights of the citizens of Gujarat and the HC order is a slap on the face of BJP leaders who have autocratic mindset," added Doshi.

Earlier in the day, the HC stayed the legislation that makes voting mandatory in local body polls in Gujarat. The ruling came on a plea filed against the Act by lawyer K R Koshti.

A Bill making voting compulsory for all citizens in civic bodies, mooted by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was passed by the Assembly in 2009 and became a law when Governor O P Kohli approved it in November 2014.

Earlier this month, the Government notified the law, which slaps a fine of Rs 100 on an eligible individual who fails to cast his/her vote.

Polls in 253 municipalities, 208 taluka panchayats, 26 district panchayats and six municipal corporations in Gujarat are expected to be held in October.