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Private Bill on compulsory voting divides House

While Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD and Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Rajendra Agarwal of the BJP opposed the suggestion to make voting mandatory, Nihal Chand and Jagdambika Pal of the BJP supported it.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | July 27, 2019 1:44:28 am
The Law Commission, in its March 2015 report on electoral reforms, had opposed the idea of compulsory voting, saying it was not practical to implement it.

As a private member’s Bill to make voting in elections compulsory came up for consideration in the Lok Sabha, members were divided on the issue. The Compulsory Voting Bill, 2019, was introduced by Janardan Singh Sigriwal of the BJP on July 12. It was taken up for “further consideration” on Friday.

While Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD and Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Rajendra Agarwal of the BJP opposed the suggestion to make voting mandatory, Nihal Chand and Jagdambika Pal of the BJP supported it.

The Law Commission, in its March 2015 report on electoral reforms, had opposed the idea of compulsory voting, saying it was not practical to implement it.

Rudy said it was not logical to say that development would necessarily follow if voting is made compulsory. “Hundred per cent voting may be dangerous… India is not ready for 100 per cent voting,” he said.

Nihal Chand was in favour of the move, but Mahtab said it would be difficult to enforce.

A total of 44 private members’ Bills were introduced in Lok Sabha on Friday. As the scheduled time approached, BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi, who was in the Chair, said: “Honb’le members, if the House agrees, we can defer the time of Private Members’ Business till the passing of the Companies (Amendment) Bill.” The House responded with a “yes”.

However, BJP member Nishikant Dubey said “this sort of problem arises every Friday”. He said that in case a Bill has to be passed on a Friday, the House may skip the lunch break. “This is members’ right, it should not happen time and again,” he said. Terming his suggestion “correct”, MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said it could be considered in future.

DMK member Kanimozhi introduced a Bill seeking to abolish death sentence. The Law Commission had recently recommended abolition of death penalty, except in cases related to terrorism. Responding to a debate on the issue in Rajya Sabha, MoS for Home G Kishan Reddy said that 90 per cent opinion was in favour of retaining death sentence.

A Bill for setting up an Indigenous Cow Protection Board was introduced by BJP member from Rajasthan Devji M Patel. BJP member Gautam Gambhir introduced a Bill for protection of medical and health service professionals from assault. A similar Bill was introduced by Shrikant Eknath Shinde of Shiv Sena.

Mahtab moved a Bill to regulate termination of life of a person who is in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill.

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