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Gujarat governor returns compulsory voting bill
Friday, July 02, 2010 08:20:36 PM, IANS
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Gandhinagar: Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal Saturday returned to the assembly for reconsideration a bill making voting compulsory in elections to local self government bodies.
The reasons cited by the governor were that the Gujarat Local Authority (Amendment) Bill 2009 impinges on Article 19(1) of the constitution pertaining to freedom of expression.
She also wanted the clause relating to punitive action against those who fail to cast their vote to be removed.
The governor also took exception to the decision to club the provision of 50 percent reservation for women in local bodies in the bill with that of mandatory voting.
The bill was passed by majority vote by the Gujarat assembly Dec 20, 2009, with the opposition Congress terming it "unconstitutional" and opposing it.
The bill provided for declaring a voter who failed to turn up to vote as a defaulter. Such defaulters would be served notices, seeking reasons for their failure to vote. The exempted categories included people who are physically incapable due to illness, or absent on the date of election from the state.
If found guilty by the administration, the proposed punishments included being deprived of below poverty line (BPL) card, government service, or subsidised loan and so on.
It was largely expected that if finally cleared, the first ever compulsory voting may take place in December 2010 when elections to a large number of local self government bodies fall due in Gujarat.
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