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Bill for voting rights for NRIs finalised


New Delhi, June 10, 2010

A Group of Ministers (GoM) Thursday finalised a bill to provide voting rights to non-resident Indians (NRIs), a highly placed government source said.

The re-drafted bill would be tabled during the monsoon session of parliament beginning mid-July, the source told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The bill, seeking to amend section 20 of the Representation Of The People Act, 1950 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2006 and was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on personnel and public grievances.

The GoM, constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under Defence Minister A.K. Antony, accepted the committee's recommendation that the names of NRIs should not be deleted from the voters' list even after their six months of absence from their place of residence in India owing to their employment, education or otherwise outside the country, as is the law presently.

When contacted, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi only said he and his cabinet colleagues, including Home Minister P.Chidambaram, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Veerappa Moily, attended the GoM meeting.

While inaugurating the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in January, the prime minister said he recognised the desire of NRIs to exercise their franchise in India and hoped they would be able to vote by the next general elections in 2014.

"I recognise the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India. We are working on this issue and I sincerely hope that they will get a chance to vote by the time of the next regular general elections," he said.

Ravi had also assured NRIs that the government would introduce a bill for the purpose.