Not voting? Be ready to pay fine or face jail
news Saturday, May 02, 2015 - 05:30
The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Ministry is mulling over an idea to making voting mandatory in the gram panchayat elections, a Times of India report said. While it proposes to reward those who exercise their voting rights, for those who don't vote, the ministry is proposing to levy fine of up to Rs 500 or imprison them for two days, the report said With this, Karnataka may become the second state to introduce mandatory voting after Gujarat. Since the proposal is still in its early stages, it may not implemented for the upcoming gram panchayat elections in May. "We are still in the process of framing rules for the new legislation which will take some time. We have decided to seek suggestions from an expert committee in implementing the new rules,'' minister H K Patil told the paper. It also plans to issue voting certificates when voted. These certificates may be necessary when applying for ration cards or driving licenses. The report also says that "those seeking government jobs and admission to higher educational institutions will get preference" if they have voted for 5-15 years with a break. Even people who opt for None of the above option (NOTA) will also be availed a voting certificate. However, citizens who would be unable to vote for genuine reasons will be exempted. Narendar Pani, Professor of School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, was quoted by the paper as, "The rule to make voting compulsory has to be severe. Otherwise, it won't work. I assume the ruling Congress would be lenient in its rules simply because it would not want to annoy rural voters. This will defeat the whole purpose of the legislation.''