NRIs can now vote back home

Last Updated: Friday, February 4, 2011 - 00:14

New Delhi: Non-resident Indians (NRIs) can
now cast votes in their home constituencies as the government
has notified rules in this regard, fulfilling the longstanding
demand of such people estimated to be 11 million.

The rules make it clear that the NRIs would have to
register as voters and be "physically present" with their
passport on the polling day to exercise their franchise.
There is no provision for postal balloting.

"Every citizen of India staying in a foreign country,
who has not acquired citizenship of a foreign country, and has
completed 18 years of age as on January 1 of the year, can
make an application for being registered in the roll for the
constituency pertaining to the locality in which his place of
residence in India as mentioned in the passport is located,"
said the notification prepared in consultation with the
Election Commission.

This meets the longstanding demands of the NRIs and
fulfils the promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at
last year`s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, an annual congregration
of Indian diaspora here.

As per the law so far, the name of an NRI would be
deleted from the voters` list if he or she did not stay at
their residence in India for six months at a stretch.

The NRI voters now can submit the application directly
to the electoral registration officer of the constituency
within which the place of residence is mentioned in the
The application can either be submitted directly or
sent by post.

According to the Representation of the People Act,
once a person is registered as a voter, he automatically has a
right to contest polls also.

As per the Representation of the People (Amendment)
Act, 2010, so far a person who has gone out of the country for
business or employment should be treated as having moved out
of that place. Mere ownership or possession of a building or
other immovable property did not bestow on the owner, the
residential qualification.

There are a large number of citizens of India residing
outside India due to various reasons. They have been
persistently demanding for conferring them voting rights, the
Amendment Act said.

Though the issue had been receiving the attention of
the Government for quite some time, the demand could not be
acceded to owing to certain "practical difficulties" in
enrolling them in the electoral rolls of the concerned

The Act says the right to vote as demanded by the
citizens of India living abroad is "their legitimate right."
Conferring such right will enable them to participate in the
democratic process of elections in their motherland and will
also boost their involvement in the nation building.


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First Published: Friday, February 4, 2011 - 00:14

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