NRIs can now vote back home

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 3 (PTI) Non-resident Indians (NRIs) cannow cast votes in their home constituencies as the governmenthas notified rules in this regard, fulfilling the longstandingdemand of such people estimated to be 11 million.

The rules make it clear that the NRIs would have toregister as voters and be "physically present" with theirpassport on the polling day to exercise their franchise.

There is no provision for postal balloting.

"Every citizen of India staying in a foreign country,who has not acquired citizenship of a foreign country, and hascompleted 18 years of age as on January 1 of the year, canmake an application for being registered in the roll for theconstituency pertaining to the locality in which his place ofresidence in India as mentioned in the passport is located,"said the notification prepared in consultation with theElection Commission.

This meets the longstanding demands of the NRIs andfulfills the promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh atlast year''s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an annual congregrationof Indian diaspora here.

As per the law so far, the name of an NRI would bedeleted from the voters'' list if he or she did not stay attheir residence in India for six months at a stretch.

The NRI voters now can submit the application directlyto the electoral registration officer of the constituencywithin which the place of residence is mentioned in thepassport.

The application can either be submitted directly orsent by post.

According to the Representation of the People Act,once a person is registered as a voter, he automatically has aright to contest polls also.

As per the Representation of the People (Amendment)Act, 2010, so far a person who has gone out of the country forbusiness or employment should be treated as having moved outof that place. Mere ownership or possession of a building orother immovable property did not bestow on the owner, theresidential qualification.

There are a large number of citizens of India residingoutside India due to various reasons. They have beenpersistently demanding for conferring them voting rights, theAmendment Act said.

Though the issue had been receiving the attention ofthe Government for quite some time, the demand could not beacceded to owing to certain "practical difficulties" inenrolling them in the electoral rolls of the concernedconstituency.

The Act says the right to vote as demanded by thecitizens of India living abroad is "their legitimate right."Conferring such right will enable them to participate in thedemocratic process of elections in their motherland and willalso boost their involvement in the nation building.

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