In this article, Yamini Kumar, a student at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, critically analyses the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2009.
The introduction of the controversial Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2009 advocated compulsory voting for the first time in India. It has encountered vehement opposition from various civil society constituencies in society. This article seeks to critically analyse the socio-legal effects of the Act. It argues that such legislation is unconstitutional and in violation of our fundamental right to freedom of expression. Low voter turnout is a result of voter-apathy and an inherently flawed political system. This authoritarian law fails to effectively identify and address these issues. After evaluating the Act within a comparative framework of countries having similar laws of compulsory voting, this article entails an analytical study of the reasons as to why the Act has been considered unreasonable and can potentially trigger a dangerous precedent. It is pertinent to note that the Gujarat state government lacks the necessary resources and infrastructure to implement such a law. Further, the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court that introduced the ‘None of the Above’ option has been discussed, in light of its nexus with the contemporary issue of compulsory voting. Lastly, certain alternative measures have been suggested which are in sync with our Constitutional framework and would lead to an increase in voter turnouts through democratic modalities.