Proposal to grant voting rights by proxy to foreign Indians detained for 'additional study'

NEW DELHI: It is known that the government has retained its plan to present a new bill in Parliament to extend the ease of proxy voting to Indians abroad, awaiting the reconciliation of various opinions on the subject.

A similar bill had expired after the dissolution of the last month. It was approved by the lower house but was pending in Rajya Sabha.

Government sources said that the proposal of the Ministry of Law was presented to the Union Cabinet on June 24, where it was decided that it would be retained for further study.

The proposal will move forward after several points of view are reconciled, said a senior official.

Several parties have called for similar facilities to be extended to domestic migrants who can not vote when elections are held in their places of origin, since most can not afford to travel or lose their jobs.

The invoice He proposes that Indians abroad, who have the right to vote in India, could now appoint a proxy voter to cast their vote.

As of now, overseas Indians were free to cast their votes in the constituencies where they were registered. The invoice seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which till now was only available to service personnel.

According to estimates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are around 3.10 million NRIs living in different countries around the world.

A committee of experts from the Electoral Commission, working on the issue, had sent in 2015 the legal framework to the Ministry of Law to amend the electoral laws to allow Indians abroad to use proxy voting.

Unofficial EC data show that only between 10,000 and 12,000 foreign voters have exercised their franchise because they do not want to spend hard currency to come to India and vote.

The bill said that the necessary provision to come to India to cast its vote caused difficulties for the electors abroad.

Another provision in the draft amendment relates to the spouses of serving voters. From now on, the wife of a soldier has the right to be registered as a service voter, but the husband of an army officer is not, in accordance with the provisions of the electoral law.

The bill proposes to replace the term 'wife' with 'spouse', which makes the provision gender-neutral.

Members of the armed forces, personnel of state police forces displaced outside their state, and central employees displaced outside India are eligible to register as serving voters.