Left parties in Kerala back proxy vote for NRIs

Proxy voting was one of the two options suggested by a 12-member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, in its report submitted to the Supreme Court recently.

By T K Devasia

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sun 19 Oct 2014, 11:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:48 AM

Left parties have backed the Election Comnmission’s suggestion to allow Non-resident Indians (NRIs) proxy voting in the elections.

Proxy voting was one of the two options suggested by a 12-member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, in its report submitted to the Supreme Court recently.

The panel was appointed by the EC to explore the feasibility of alternative options for voting by overseas electors on a direction given by the apex court while considering a petition filed by V P Shamsheer, an NRI from Kerala, against denial of voting opportunity to the NRIs.

The proxy system in which NRIs can name a proxy in their constituency who can exercise their right to vote has also been backed by the Communist Party of India (CPI), a key ally of the CPI (M). However, the party wants a mechanism to ensure that the proxy is genuine and trusted by the contestants.

Both the parties have opposed the panel’s other suggestion to allow e-postal ballots saying it could open a flood gate of problems. Abdul Khader, CPI (M) MLA and secretary of Pravasi Sangham, the NRI body of the party, said that the e-ballot system could lead to manipulations.

As per the e-ballot system, blank ballot papers will have to be electronically sent to NRIs, who can then mark his vote and return it by post. Abdul Khader told Khaleej Times that it may not be possible for EC to ensure that the vote under the e-ballot system is cast by the genuine voter since it will have no control over the process overseas.

He said that the party will support e-postal ballots only if the EC comes out with mechanism without any loopholes for misuse.

A senior leader of the Congress party said they will respond to the EC suggestions after studying them. He said that the party did not have the full details of the report submitted by the panel to the Supreme Court.

The party had opposed it during consultation the EC panel had with representatives of political parties. It had viewed the provision violative of the secret ballot principle. It favoured facilities to vote at Indian embassies instead of allowing voting through internet.

The NRIs were granted voting rights in 2011 through an amendment in the People’s Representation Act. However, a provision in the act envisaging presence of the overseas voters in the constituency prevented majority of the NRIs from exercising their right.

This also dissuaded NRIs from enrolling their names in the voters list. Out of over 10 million voters spread across the world, only about 12,000 have registered their names so far.

Shamsheer, who is a doctor running a chain of hospitals in the United Arab Emirates, challenged the restrictions in exercising their franchise saying it was a violation of the fundamental rights enshired under article 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution.

The Supreme Court had directed the EC to favourably consider various options for voting by the NRIs based on Shamsheer’s arguments. If the apex court accepts the EC panel recommendations, NRIs may be able to cast votes from overseas locations in the Assembly elections in 2016.



More news from