UPDATED: With the amendment to the Representation of People Act underway, The Indian Parliament has been directed by the Supreme Court to grant and facilitate proxy voting rights for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in 12 weeks. They can now participate in the Indian electorate through proxy. This will allow them to cast their votes in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections without having to personally fly down to their home constituency.
Once the Parliament approves the new arrangement, the Cabinet will frame the requisite guidelines to take this move forward. Earlier it was considering an electronic voting system but are yet to iron out details of technicalities, infrastructure, etc. In the meantime, the proxy option allows the NRI to cast their votes from overseas.
For a NRI to be able to cast his vote
- Appoint a reliable, trustworthy individual as the Proxy;
- Convey the choice of vote to him/ her;
- The proxy physically casts the vote in lieu of the absent NRI;
- Point to be noted – Appoint a new proxy for each election. NRIs cannot have a permanent proxy chosen to vote on their behalf;
- One individual cannot act as proxy for multiple NRIs;
- The chosen proxy should be an ordinary resident of the voting constituency.
The critics of this new option opined that the concept of the ‘secret ballot’ can be questionable and that there is deficiency of trust when it comes to executing of the proxy vote. Given that India has a highly politicized electoral fabric, influencing the proxy itself poses a risk to this new system thereby, affecting a fair and free poll. However, the 60-lakh eligible Indian voters settled abroad can rejoice in their constitutional rights being acknowledged and given a platform to have a say in their choice of government come next elections. Just hoping that this system is judiciously executed.
Find other initiatives to include the NRIs in the Indian electorate on www.Path2USA.com.