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Parliamentary Panel Raises Questions Over Proxy Voting For NRIs

New Delhi: A Panel of Parliament today questioned the “credibility” of proxy-voting for Non-Residents Indians [NRIs], saying it opened the doors for malpractices and added that the option of using postal ballots or technology could be explored instead. The Standing Committee on External Affairs of Parliament, headed by the Shashi Tharoor the lawmaker of Congress, has today briefed on the “Voting Right to NRIs” by Vijay Keshav Gokhale, Secretary the External Affairs Ministry, and G Narayana Raju, the Secretary of Legislative Department.

During the meeting, the members expressed concerns over the credibility of proxy voting, saying that it could lead to malpractices, one of them said. The members suggested the use of the mechanism for online voting and a technology, instead of proxy voting, he added. One of the members said polling booths could be set up at the Indian embassies and consulates across the World to enable the NRIs to exercise their franchise. The committee also asked the officials to brief them about the practices followed by other countries to register the votes of their non-resident citizens.

Last year in August, the Union Cabinet had cleared a proposal to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending the electoral laws. While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, according to the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of a proxy, which as of now are available only to the service personnel. An expert committee of the Election Commission working on the issue had, in 2015, forwarded the legal framework to the law ministry for amending the electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting.

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