Background of NRI voting and its advantages

Background of NRI voting and its advantages

Q. Throw some light on background of NRI voting in India and its advantages.

1. Background of NRI voting in India:
• EC directed Union Government to allow NRI voting, SC direction also allows NRIs to use postal ballot
• Union Government accepts directives in “letter and spirit”
• Parliament has passed Representation of People (Amendment)Act 2010 to encourage NRI voting
• Section 20A of above act to give person eligibility as voter if working or studying abroad or staying here for a reason
• Lacuna of physical presence to allow voting through section 20A stopped
• Move to allow NRIs to vote a result of PIL proceedings

2. About Section 20A

Section 20A of the Representation of People (Amendment)Act 2010 requires:

• Physical presence of NRIs required in respective constituencies during election

Disadvantages of Section 20A

• Stops person citizens of India who are NRIs from voting.
• Requirement defeats the very purpose of 2010 Act

3. About PIL

Public Interest Litigation filed in SC holding that:

• NRIs to be allowed to vote from abroad
• Physical presence not required for voting
• Provision 20A in violation of Constitution’s Article 14 by treating persons differently based on economic classifications

4. Why NRIs Should Be Allowed to Vote?

• Increase in cross border migration
• Changing concept of nationhood
• Increased contribution of NRIs to welfare activities in India
• Political membership decoupled from territorial locations
• Increased citizen participation beyond boundaries worldwide
• Encourage NRIs to participate in political and social issues of India
• NRI remit huge amount and deserve a say in government
• Investors looking for good returns will be encouraged to invest in the nation
• NRI votes can be for progressive leaders-change way country moves forward
• Help in forming clear mandate
• Increase in tourism, education and insurance sectors

5. Against NRI Voting

• NRIs may not know regarding domestic conditions
• High chances of electoral malpractices
• Proxy or postal ballots open to manipulation
• E-ballot can be harmed through spyware, malware etc
• Citizens affected by government choice, not NRIs

6. Different Methods for Voting Open to NRIs:
• Personal Voting: vote cast in diplomatic missions abroad
• Postal ballot method: votes sent by regular post
• Proxy vote: someone else votes for the NRIs
• Electronic voting: Use of electronic means for casting vote

Method Chosen by Government: Postal Ballot

Why Postal Ballots?

• Logistics problem in mandating physical presence
• Affordable and cost effective, physical presence increases election cost
• Government officers, employees of embassies, army personnel already using postal ballot
• Postal ballot enhances revenue of India Post
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