New Delhi: Observing that people cannot be
forced to vote till they have a choice to elect candidates
with a clean image, Government today expressed its inability
to enforce compulsory voting in the country.
"Till the time people have a choice to vote for candidates
with clean image, they cannot be forced to vote. It would be
fatal for democracy and lead to disillusionment," Law Minister
M Veerappa Moily said in the Lok Sabha.
He was replying to a private member`s bill on compulsory
voting tabled by J P Agarwal (Cong), who later withdrew it.
Moily said while he was not against the idea of compulsory
voting, "a stand alone law won`t take us anywhere."
He said enacting another law was not a remedy . "It should
not be ornamental. We have to add flesh and blood in it," he
The Law Minister said the Dinesh Goswami Committee formed
in the 1990s had delved into the subject of compulsory voting
and recommended against it as it was found to be impractical.
He said situations like illness, preoccupation and use
of force by political parties can prevent people from voting.
While expressing concern over low voter turnout, Moily
said it was not a reflection on the electorate.
He claimed that illiterate people were more aware of their
rights as voters than the educated lot.
Moily said there was no dispute with any aspect of the
bill moved by Agarwal as this was the ultimate goal.
"This Bill has provided a roadmap on how to enlighten the
electorate and reach that goal. Voting is as much a duty of
the voters as it is to taxation and other such duties. Voters
are the foundation of this great democracy. It is a
fundamental duty every citizen should perform," he said.
Pointing out that about 31 crore out of the 71 crore
voters do not vote, Moily wondered if candidates winning with
less than one-sixth of the votes polled reflected the will of
"Clearly, we cannot boast of being the largest democracy
with the largest electorate in the world, if this situation
prevails. It will be a tragedy, travesty of democracy...we
have to set this right," he said.