The Lok Sabha has passed a bill that proposes to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to enable the overseas electors to appoint proxies to cast their votes in the elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The bill proposes to amend section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to enable the overseas electors to appoint a proxy to cast the vote in an election on their behalf, subject to certain conditions to be laid down. According to a UN survey, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world with 16 million people from the country living in 2015. The bill also proposes changes in the Acts to make provisions gender neutral and replace the term wife with spouse.
Replying to the debate on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Law Minister Ravi Shankar said it was a “momentous event” and a big opportunity was being given to non-resident Indians (NRIs).
The Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides for the conduct of elections and offences and disputes related to elections.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill states that the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 provide that the overseas electors can register themselves in the electoral rolls and exercise their franchise in person on production of original passport. “The existing rules stipulate the physical presence of the overseas electors in the respective polling station in India on the day of polling. This causes hardship to the overseas electors in exercising their franchise by being present in India on the day of polling. “In view of the above difficulty faced by the overseas electors, the Government has considered the feasibility of facilitating external mode of voting i.e. voting by proxy, whereby such electors can exercise their franchise from their place of residence abroad,” the statement said.