Gujarat Governor O P Kohli has signed the controversial Gujarat Local Authorities Laws Bill makes voting compulsory in the state, which is a first in the country.
The bill passed by the then Modi government in the state was pending before the Governor because Kamla Beniwal had refused to sign it contending that making exercise of voting compulsory was violation of the article 21 of the constitution.
The bill provides that a person, who does not vote in the local municipal and panchayat elections will be liable for penal action and punishment.
The bill was first introduced in the state assembly in December 2009 and passed by majority vote as the opposition Congress had opposed it.
The Governor Beniwal had, however, returned it in April 2010 with remarks that “forcing voter to vote is against the principles of an individual liberty”.
Subsequently, the Modi government had again passed the bill in the assembly in 2011 and had sent for the Governor's approval.
"Now, the state government will frame rules regarding penal action against those who don't exercise their franchise in the local elections," a state government official said.
It may be noted that Gujarat will see municipal and panchayat elections in 2015.