No proxy voting rights for overseas Indians for now

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

According to reports, the Indian government has decided to hold back its plan to introduce a fresh bill in Parliament which would allow the facility of 'proxy voting' to overseas Indians. The bill has been withheld pending "reconciliation" of varied views on the issue.

A similar bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month. It was passed by the lower house but was pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Speaking to Connected to India in June, head of the BJP's Foreign Affairs department, Dr. Vijay Chauthaiwale had said that the government was hopeful of getting this bill passed this time round. 

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According to the report, sources in the government have said that the Law Ministry proposal came before the Union Cabinet on June 24 where it was decided that it be held back for "further study".

There have been demands from various parties to extend a similar facility to domestic migrants who are unable to vote when elections are held in their native places as most cannot afford to travel or miss work.

The Bill proposes that overseas Indians, who are entitled to vote in India, could appoint a proxy voter to cast their vote.

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ofbjp_usa
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ofbjp_usa

As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes by visiting the constituencies where they are registered. 

According to estimates by 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 (EC), 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 EC shows that only 10,000 to 12,000 overseas voters have exercised their franchise.