Gujarat to make voting a must in local elections

Piloting the bill, Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel termed it a pioneering move aimed at making democracy more representative and meaningful.

The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009 seeks to amend the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corp Act 1949, the Gujarat Municipalities Act, 1963 and the Gujarat Panchayats Act 1993.

It proposes to make voting compulsory in all seven municipal corporations, 159 municipalities, 26 district panchayats, 223 taluka panchayats and in 13,713 village panchayats of the state.

All registered voters in Gujarat will be required to vote and those absent will be summoned by the local election officer to submit a valid reason with proof within a month.

The bill empowers the election officer designated by the state election commission to declare people who do not cast their vote as defaulter voters. They shall subsequently be notified and will have an opportunity to present their reason within a month.

Exemption will be granted on account of illness, absence from the country or state on polling day and for any other reason prescribed by the state. Subsequently, the government will decide on the action to be taken against the defaulters.

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