NRIs to get voting rights soon

Election commission to come up with a draft by the month end


Deevakar Anand | December 10, 2010

Indians living overseas can soon vote. The election commission is working on a draft to be completed by the end of this month, to frame rules to govern voting by non resident Indians.

Talking to reporters at an event here on Thursday, chief election commissioner S Y Qureshi said the commission has already had consultations with the secretaries (foreign and overseas affairs) and the law ministry.

However, there are apprehensions on feasibility of the same in the near future. It’s unlikely that the NRIs will get the voting rights in the immediate - assembly- elections in Tamil Nadu and Kerala due next year.

Quaraishi said the complexities involved in effecting this was enormous and would require a lot of strenuous streamlining.”We are looking at the possibilities…no promise”, he said.

Voting rights have been a long-standing demand of NRIs especially those living in the Gulf countries but the issue is pending for long now.The Union Cabinet in 2006 itself had cleared amendments in section 20 of the Representation of People's Act bill through which the ambit of ‘ordinarily resident’ as mentioned in the act was amplified with a view to give the NRI’s the voting rights.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh had indicated during the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas earlier this year that NRI’s would get voting rights by the next lok sabha elections in 2014.

In the last monsoon session, the parliament passed the bill  and the centre has already notified The Representation of People (Amendment) Act.

Once the provision is into effect, Indian citizens living abroad due to employment, education or other purposes will be able to vote.  The new rule will allow Indian citizens living abroad to get their names registered in the electoral roll of the concerned constituency of their place of ordinary residence in India and cast their vote in the elections to the lok sabha and state legislatures if they are present in their constituencies at the time of the voting.








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