Voting must in Gujarat local polls

For the first time in India, voting is now compulsory in elections to local self-government institutions in Gujarat state.

By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Wed 12 Nov 2014, 11:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:18 AM

The controversial Gujarat Local Authorities Laws Bill, 2009, which has now been signed by Governor O P Kohli, also has the provision of 50 per cent reservation for women in elections to local bodes like municipalities, municipal corporations, panchayats.

The Bill provides that a person, who does not vote in the local body polls, will be liable for penal action and punishment. The government will soon issue a notification with exact details on implementation of the new legislation.

The Bill was first introduced in the assembly in December 2009 and passed by a majority vote by the Bharatiya Janata Party-controlled Gujarat government led by the then chief minister Narendra Modi.

But it had faced stiff resistance from former pro-Congress Governor Kamla Beniwal on the ground that forcing voters to compulsorily vote violated Article 21 of the Constitution as it was against the principles of individual liberty.

However, ignoring Beniwal’s suggestions, the Modi government once again passed the Bill on December 28, 2011 by a majority vote in the House and sent it to Beniwal who again did not approve it.

Elections to six municipal corporations, 31 district panchayats, 231 taluka panchayats and 53 municipalities in Gujarat are due in October next year.

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