Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal has returned the compulsory voting bill passed by the Assembly during the winter session in December last year for re-consideration by the House.
The Governor is believed to have raised objections to some provisions of the bill, including one which sought to declare a person guilty if he or she failed to turn up for voting without taking prior permission of the election authorities.
The bill was limited to elections to the local self-government bodies in the State, including the municipal corporations, municipalities and the district, taluka and village panchayats. It sought to send notices to the “guilty” persons who had not turned up for voting, but the bill did not specify what would be the “punishment” for not voting.
There was no official confirmation of the grounds on which the Governor had returned the bill, but it was learnt that she had asked the State government to study the situation in countries where a similar provision was made. In many cases the measure was either withdrawn or had been kept in abeyance. She suggested that before rushing with the bill, the State government should study why the measure failed in those countries and incorporate safeguards against possible failure.
With this, the State measure for compulsory 50 per cent reservation for women in all the local self-government bodies has also come to a standstill as it was part of a provision in the compulsory voting bill. The Governor is believed to have told the State government to enact a separate bill for women's reservation.
Both Raj Bhavan sources and Assembly officials declined to comment on the issue.