The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that it has no issues with a proposal to give voting right to non-resident Indians (NRIs) from country of their residence, a report in The Times of India said.
The MEA has written to the Election Commission of India backing the central poll body’s proposal to allow NRIs to vote remotely. It said that they can be given the right to vote through electronically-transmitted postal ballot system (ETPBS).
It suggested that the ECI is the right body to take a final call and it should consult all stakeholders before launching the facility.
NRIs are currently not allowed to cast vote from country of their residence. They can, however, cast their vote in person at their respective constituencies. They are required to produce passport in original at the polling booth to establish identity. Voting rights for NRIs were introduced in 2011.
Notably, the ETPBS facility is already available to service voters. This includes members of Armed forces and para-military forces, government employees who are serving abroad.
Earlier in November 2020, the ECI had sent a proposal to the Law Ministry to permit NRIs to cast their votes from overseas.
According to the commission, it had received representations from the Indian diaspora seeking facility to cast vote from country of their residence. They said that travelling to India only to cast vote is a 'costly affair'. They stressed that a mechanism should be put in place to enable them to take part in the democratic exercise.
According to a 2015 UN report, India's diaspora is the largest in the world at 16 million. However, there are only 1.17 lakh NRIs registered voters.