Bill on compulsory voting reaches Gujarat house again

September 7th, 2010 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Gandhinagar, Sep 7 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat Tuesday reintroduced in the assembly a bill making voting mandatory in elections to local self-government authorities.
The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009 was brought before the house without any change but along with Governor Kamla Beniwal’s “message” dated April 5.

The governor had returned the bill and recommended that its provisions be reconsidered for suitable amendments by the house.

The bill was presented by Speaker Daulatbhai Desai, officiating in place of Ashok Bhatt who is recuperating after a serious bout of illness, on the second and final day of the assembly session. It is expected to be taken up in the next session.

The governor had returned the bill pointing out that it violated provisions of the constitution which guarantee freedom of expression which also includes the right not to vote.

She noted that no provision has been made in the bill regarding government’s own duty of incorporating all eligible voters in the voters’ list or timely distribution of voters’ identity cards.

The penal consequences that a voter is likely to suffer if he or she is declared a defaulter for not voting are also not specified. “This is an essential legislative function and cannot be left to the rule making authority as no norms have been prescribed,” the governor noted.

She had also noted that in countries where compulsory voting was implemented, it was found impractical and ultimately withdrawn.

A similar bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2004 by BJP member Bachchi Singh Rawat but rejected after discussion, the governor said.

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