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Allowing proxy voting to NRIs: Union Cabinet to decide on fresh bill on Monday

By PTI
|

New Delhi, June 23: The Union cabinet will take a call on Monday to introduce a fresh bill in Parliament to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians.

A similar bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month. Sources in the government said on Sunday that the union cabinet will consider introducing the bill in parliament.

File photo of cabinet meeting

The bill proposes that overseas Indians, who are entitled to vote in India, can appoint a proxy voter to cast the ballot on their behalf. As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies they are registered.

The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is as of now available to service personnel only. According to estimates of the Ministry of External Affairs, there are about 3.10 crore NRIs living in different countries across the world.

An expert committee of the Election Commission, working on the issue, had in 2015 forwarded the legal framework to the Law Ministry to amend the electoral laws to allow the overseas Indians to use proxy voting. Unofficial data with the EC shows that only 10,000 to 12,000 overseas voters have exercised their franchise because they do not want to spend foreign currency to come to India and vote.

The bill said the necessary provision of coming to India to cast ballot caused hardship for overseas electors. Another provision in the amendment bill relates to the spouses of service voters.

[Union Cabinet to take a call on amending NIA act, UAPA on Monday]

As of now, an armyman's wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer's husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law. The bill proposes to replace the term 'wife' with 'spouse', thus making the provision gender-neutral.

Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.

PTI

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