THE COMPULSORY VOTING BILL, 2009

Well friends THE COMPULSORY VOTING BILL, 2009 was introduced by SHRI J.P. AGARWAL, M.P. in the Lok Sabha to provide for compulsory voting by the electorate in the country and for matters connected therewith.
Section 2 says:
"It shall be compulsory for every voter who is eligible to vote at an election to
exercise his right to vote when called for by the Election Commission:
Provided that a voter may be exempted from exercising his right to vote—
(a) if he is physically incapacitated from an illness of a serious nature and
produces a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner certifying such
incapacity; or
(b) if the Election Commission or such other authority as may be empowered by
the Election Commission, on receipt of a request either before or after the poll, from the
voter, is satisfied that there are genuine and bona fide grounds for such exemption."

Well this provision makes voting compulsory and further section 8 lays down the punishment in case of failure to vote. It says:

"Any person, who fails to cast his vote shall be liable to—
(i) A fine of rupees five hundred, or
(ii) two day’s imprisonment, or
(iii) forfeiture of his ration card;
(iv) be rendered ineligible for contesting any election for a period of ten years
from the date of his conviction;
(v) be ineligible for allotment of a plot or a house in a Government owned
organisation;
(vi) be ineligible to get loan of any kind from any financial institution owned by
the Government;
(vii) be ineligible for entitlement to any welfare scheme announced by the
Government from time to time:

Provided that if such person is an employee of the Union Government or the State
Government or the Union territory administration or any public sector undertaking owned or controlled by Union Government or the State Government or the Union territory administration,
such person shall also be punished with—
(a) forfeiture of ten days' salary; and
(b) delay in promotion for a period of two years."

Further section 9 provides certain incentives to persons who has caste their vote despite of their illness or physical incapicity. It says:

"Any person who, despite his illness or physical incapacity has exercised his right to
vote at an election or any person who has exercised his right to vote at all elections held
during a period of fifteen years preceding the commencement of this Act without any break
shall be—
(i) given preference in jobs in the services under the Central Government; and
(ii) given preference in admission to the institutions of higher education."

I would also like to draw your attention to THE CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2009 introduced by SHRI K.C. SINGH BABA, M.P. The bill seeks to insert clause (k) in Article 51A. Section 2 of the amendment Act is as follows:

"In article 51A of the Constitution, after clause (k), the following clause shall be
added, namely:—
“(l) to cast vote at elections to the House of the People, Legislative
Assemblies of States and local bodies.”.

Well both these bills are on the same path, one bill makes voting compulsory whereas the other makes it a fundamental duty to cast vote. There is no argument as to the fact that the number of voters have gone down much over the years; everyone agrees on this. Well isn't this because people have lost faith in the system? Is our democracy a failure?? Section 3 of the COMPULSORY VOTING BILL mandates that election commission should give adequate protection and safety to all citizens who come to polling booths to cast their votes. Are our citizens afraid to come to the booths?? In the recent elections to parliament, a present cabinet minister, was first declared to have lost the elections but later it was changed and he was declared as the winner in the elections. Are the hands of the election commission clean?? These are all questions which are difficult to answer.

Will be back with more inputs soon !!!

NB: Full text of both the bills are available at www.answeringlaw.com

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