NEW DELHI: The government’s plan to introduce a fresh Bill in Parliament to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians has been withheld.
Sources claimed that the Law Ministry’s proposal came before the Union Cabinet on June 24 where it was decided that it be held back for further study. They said that the proposal will move forward after various views are reconciled.
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 Rajya Sabha. There have been demands from various parties to extend similar facilities 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 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 Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is only available to service personnel.
A 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 overseas Indians to use proxy voting.
Another provision in the amendment bill relates to the spouses of service voters. As of now, an army man’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 of gender neutral.
- 3.10 crore NRIs living in different countries across the world.
- 10,000 to 12,000 overseas voters have exercised their franchise because they do not want to spend money to come to India and vote.