Assembly okays bill on making voting compulsory in panchayat polls

Assembly okays bill on making voting compulsory in panchayat polls

Assembly okays bill on making voting compulsory in panchayat polls

The Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed an amendment bill that makes voting compulsory in panchayat elections.

The Karnataka Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2015, also provides for the electorate to select None Of The Above (NOTA) option while exercising their franchise.

The bill provides for increasing the terms of office of presidents and vice-presidents of gram, taluk and zilla panchayats from the present 30 months to five years.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil said the government wanted to make voting compulsory in panchayat elections to ensure greater participation of people. Gujarat and Rajasthan have already made voting compulsory in panchayat elections, he added.

However, there is no penal provision against those who violate the “compulsory voting” clause. “As many as 22 countries have made voting compulsory and only 10 of them impose penalty on electorates who do not turn up at polling booths. We have not included any penalty as we want to prompt the electorate to come and vote”, Patil said.

Patil said that there were all sorts of malpractices at panchayat level due to short tenure of the president and vice-president . The members are indulging in a lot of politics instead of development. A full five- year tenure will prevent these activities. The government is committed to hold elections to gram panchayats in May this year, he said.

Patil said the government will bring comprehensive amendments to the Panchayat Raj Act incorporating various suggestions made by the committee headed by former Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to recommend panchayat raj reforms.The bill provides for continuation of rotation of reservation of SC, ST and Other Backward Classes and non-reserved category up to 10 years and provides for one half reservation to women in all panchayatsEarlier, BJP members urged the government to withdraw the bill and come out with a comprehensive bill that includes all the major recommendations made by the Ramesh Kumar panel.