The Union Cabinet, on Wednesday, cleared a proposal to allow proxy voting to Non-Residential Indians, by amending electoral laws, a senior Government functionary was quoted as saying.
The amended Representation of the People Act will allow nearly 16 million NRIs to exercise the right by appointing a proxy from their constituency to cast the vote.
As per an Indian Express report, currently only service personnel are allowed to vote by proxy, where they can declare their relatives as a permanent nominee for casting a vote on their behalf. Overseas electors will, however, have to appoint a new proxy for each fresh election, unlike service personnel who can appoint a permanent proxy.
The Election Commission had begun considering the issue of allowing NRIs to cast their vote from abroad in 2014, after receiving several requests in this regard, including one from Rajya Sabha MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal and the Ministry of Overseas Affairs.
A 12 member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner and comprising of officials from the EC, Law Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs had then taken opinions from all sections before submitting a 50 page report to the Apex Court.
“The committee is of the view that e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot is transferred electronically to NRIs and returned by post, can be employed after validation of the process and pilot implementation in one or two constituencies and then be scaled up for parliamentary elections if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections,” the report had said.
Subsequently, in April, 2015, the Supreme Court had granted the Centre six weeks time to determine the intricacies of procedures involved in allowing proxy voting and e-ballots for NRIs during elections.
This was followed by an order rendered by a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, which had granted two months time to the Government to incorporate the proposed changes in the bill to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote in Indian elections. The propositions included allowing NRIs to vote by proxy and through e-ballots.
The order had been issued on a Petition filed by the Chairman of Pravasi Bharat, Mr. Nagender Chindam, who had contended that Section 20A of the Representation of the peoples (Amendment) Act, 2010, which requires the presence of the registered NRI voter to cast his vote at the polling station in his constituency, does not permit utilization of external voting methods which are currently in practice across the world.