The Gujarat High Court on 21 August stayed the state government's notification issued last month for making voting compulsory in local body elections.
Earlier this month, the government had also announced Rs 100 as fine to those who would skip voting.
Two days back, advocate KR Koshti had filed a petition in the court challenging the government's move saying that voting is a right of citizens and not a duty. He also cited various sections of Peoples' Representation Act to challenge the government's legislation. Now the HC has stayed operation of notification of compulsory voting till final disposal of the case.
The court also commented that the right to vote itself contains right to refrain from voting.
- Gujarat became the first state to make voting compulsory in local - municipal as well as panchayat polls after governor OP Kohli approved the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009, which had been rejected by earlier governor, Kamla Beniwal.
- The former government had rejected it on the ground that this provision of law was in violation of the Constitutional provisions, which guarantee freedom of expression including the right to vote or not to vote.
- The law, which was passed in 2009 and again in 2011 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister. Finally, it got the Governor's nod last year.
- Gujarat is scheduled to witness civil elections in 253 municipalities, 208 taluka panchayats, 26 district panchayats and six municipal corporations after a couple of months.