Guj govt to re-introduce compulsory voting bill

The Gujarat govt has decided to re-introduce compulsory voting bill in the State Assembly.

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government has decided
to re-introduce compulsory voting bill in the State Assembly.

The compulsory voting bill called Gujarat Local Authorities Law (Amendment) Bill 2009 to make voting mandatory
in local self governing bodies will be re-introduced in the
assembly in the two-day session starting from Monday, members
in the state Assembly said.

State`s newly appointed Law and Legislative Affairs
Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja confirmed that the bill will be
re-introduced in the Assembly session.

The compulsory voting bill which was termed as landmark
bill by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was first passed
in the State Legislative Assembly in December 2009.

However, state Governor Kamla had returned the bill in
April 2010 to the state government saying that it violates
Article 19 of the Indian constitution guaranteeing freedom of
speech and expression.

The main objections cited by the Governor were, the bill
violates constitutional provision which does not allow voting
to be made mandatory and no punishment can be meted out for
not participating in the exercise of voting.
Moreover, the Governor has also noted that the mandatory
voting bill be separated from the 50 per cent reservation for
women in the local bodies elections.

The bill, which also seeks to raise the reservation of
seats for women in local self governing bodies from 33 to 50
per cent, was passed by voice vote in the state assembly on
December 19, 2009.

The opposition had demanded separate bills for 50 per
cent reservation for women in this regard.

Under the bill, if a voter fails to vote for the reasons
other than prescribed in the rules, he may be declared a
"defaulter voter" and would face consequences for which rules
will be framed and placed before the Assembly`s approval.
"It is observed that due to low turnout of voters to
discharge their duty by exercising their right to vote, the
true spirit of the will of the people is not reflected in the
electoral mandate," said the statement of objects and reasons
of the bill.

"Everybody will benefit by compulsory voting be it a
ruling party or the opposition," Chief Minister Narendra Modi
had told media after the bill was passed in the House. He
described it as an attempt to strengthen the democracy in the
state.

PTI

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