The Gujarat government on Tuesday reintroduced in the Assembly an official bill seeking to make voting compulsory in the elections to the local self-government bodies without carrying out the changes recommended by the Governor. But did not press for its passage immediately.
The controversial ‘The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009,' also did not take into account, the Opposition parties' demand for a separate legislation for hiking women's quota in the local bodies from the present one-third to 50 per cent.
Governor Kamla Beniwal while returning the bill passed by the House in December, last year, to the government for re-consideration, had noted that the bill violated Article 19(1)(A) of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression that also included the right not to vote. She had also recommended that the clause of 50 per cent reservation for women be bifurcated from the bill for a separate legislation.
The State government, however, preferred to reintroduce the bill in its original form with all the provisions, including 50 per cent reservation for women, intact. But it did not press for its immediate passage as the House concluded the two-day session amidst uproarious scenes. It decided to take up the discussion during the next session.
Besides violating the constitutional provisions, the Governor had also noted in her recommendations that the bill made no provision regarding the government's own duty of incorporating all eligible voters in the voter's list or timely distribution of voters' identity cards to all those eligible, nor of the penal consequences that a voter was likely to suffer if the person was declared a defaulter for not voting.
“This is an essential legislative function and cannot be left to the rule making authority as no norms have been prescribed under the Act,” it noted. She had also pointed out that the countries which implemented compulsory voting later found it to be impractical and ultimately scrapped. The Narendra Modi government, however, refused to pay heed to it.
Pandemonium in House
The House also witnessed repeated uproarious scenes forcing Daulatbhai Desai, who was officiating in the absence of Speaker Ashok Bhatt, to adjourn the House for sometime during question hour. Pandemonium broke out over a Congress member's question about the arrests in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausar Bi murder case and the government refusing to discuss the matter on grounds of it being sub judice.
Meanwhile, the hearing on the bail application of the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, in the special CBI court, was adjourned till September 9 as judge P.B. Bhatt was not present.