NRIs may get voting rights soon

Voting rights in India by millions of NRIs may finally see the light of the day.

New Delhi: A longstanding demand for
voting rights in India by millions of NRIs may finally see the
light of the day with a Group of Ministers (GoM) clearing a
draft bill on the issue, paving way for its consideration by
the Union Cabinet.

Drafted almost fours years back by Overseas Affairs
Ministry, the Representation of People`s (Amendment) Bill was
cleared by a GoM headed by Defence Minister AK Antony and is
likely to be presented soon before the Cabinet.

The move to allow NRI participation in the democratic
process will further boost the two-way engagement and help
them actively participate in India`s growth story, Ravi said.

The Government had moved the bill in Rajya Sabha in
2006 proposing amendments to the Representation of People`s
Act to make provision for voting rights to non-resident
Indians. The bill was then sent to a Parliamentary Standing
Committee and later it was referred to the GoM.

Under the existing law, an NRI`s name gets deleted
from the voters` list if he/she stays outside the country for
more than six months at a stretch.

The proposed amendments will allow an Indian citizen
residing abroad to enroll in voter`s list and exercise the
franchise even if he or she remained away from place of
residence in India for more than six months owing to their
employment, education or otherwise.

However, the person will be able to exercise the
franchise only if he or she is present in the constituency on
the polling day.

The GoM that cleared the bill included Ravi,
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Law
Minister M Veerappa Moily.