Lok Sabha Enables Bill Allowing NRIs to Cast Vote Through ProxyAugust 11, 2018 10:45
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The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to widen the facility of 'proxy voting' to abroad Indians, on the lines of service voters.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responding to the debate on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017, said it was a "momentous event" and a sizable chance was being given to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
He said the constitution makers had given the right to vote to all Indians and as such the NRIs too had the right. "Let us not deride the contribution of NRIs. They have made a place for themselves through their hard work. Their commitment to India is truly remarkable," he said.
Regarding the possibility of misuse of proxy provision, he said regulations will be made in such a way that if the law is flouted, it will lead to cancellation of the mandate.
"Our sympathy is with them. They should be given the right to vote," he said.
Prasad said migrant workers can at present vote from their original place of living or by satisfying the Election Commission that they were ordinary residents of their place of work.
"It is a properly defined legal word. Armed forces are also given right of proxy voting," he said.
Regarding the proposal for presenting e-voting, Prasad said there were a batch of troubles in it and more advancement in technology will be required to make a secure architecture.
Pointing to opposition benches, he said they should not have any objection if NRIs want to listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he travels abroad.
The Representation of the People Act, 1950 renders for allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies for elections, qualifications of voters, and preparation of electoral rolls.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides for the conduct of elections and offenses and disputes related to elections.
The statement of grounds and objects of the bill states that the Registration of Electoral Rules, 1960 render that the abroad voters can register themselves in the electoral rolls and exercise their franchise in person on production of original passport.
"The existing rules stipulate the physical presence of the overseas electors in the respective polling station in India on the day of polling. This causes hardship to the overseas electors in exercising their franchise by being present in India on the day of polling.
"In view of the above difficulty faced by the overseas electors, the Government has considered the feasibility of facilitating external mode of voting i.e. voting by proxy, whereby such electors can exercise their franchise from their place of residence abroad," the statement said.
According to a United Nations survey, India's diaspora population is the largest in the world with 16 million people from the country living in 2015.
The bill likewise proposes changes in the Acts to make provisions gender neutral and supplant the term wife with a spouse.
By Sowmya Sangam