(Image source from: The Tribune)
The Indian union cabinet will take a call Monday to introduce a fresh bill in parliament to extend the facility of proxy voting to Indians abroad after the similar bill has lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month.
According to sources, the union cabinet will consider introducing the bill in parliament, which proposes that Indians abroad, who are entitled to casting vote in India, can appoint a proxy voter on their behalf.
At present, overseas Indians are permitted to cast their votes in constituencies they are enrolled. The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is currently available to service personnel only.
There are about 3.10 crore Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) living in different countries across the world, according to estimates of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Back in 2015, an expert committee of the Election Commission, working on the issue, forwarded the legal framework to the Ministry of Law and Justice to amend the electoral laws to allow the overseas Indians to use proxy voting.
An unofficial data with the Election Commission shows that only 10,000 to 12,000 overseas voters have exercised their franchise owing to the reason that 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.
Amendment bill’s another provision, according to the provisions in the electoral law, relates to the spouses of service voters. Currently, an army man’s wife is eligible to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not.
The bill proposes to replace the word ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, hence making the provision gender-neutral.
Members of the central armed police forces, armed forces, employees of the center posted outside India, and personnel of state police forces posted outside their state are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.
By Sowmya Sangam