On 8th August 2018, Thursday, the Lok Sabha passed the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, seeking amendments to be made in the provisions of Representation of People Act 1950 and Representation of People Act 1951.
The Act of 1950 deals with the delimitation of constituencies for election, allocation of seats, qualification of voters, and also the preparation of electoral rolls. Whereas, the Act of 1951 provides for the conduct of election, disputes and offences related to the elections.
The recent amendment bill will allow Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to cast their vote in India, in their respective constituencies, with the help of a person acting on their behalf, also known as proxies. Section 20A of the Representation of People Act 1950, provides for the provision for citizens residing outside India to have their name enrolled in the electoral roll, but the right to cast vote was only exercisable by the person himself.
The recent amendment enables the proxy of a particular person to cast his vote in India on their behalf. A new sub-section (ba), in Section 60 of the 1951 Act is also proposed to be added in order to allow proxy voting by the NRI’s. The newly added subsection in the amendment bill empowers the Election Commission to frame new rules that provide to the NRIs with the special procedure and provisions to cast their vote through a person acting on their behalf.
In addition to this, the Election Commission has allowed the indirect methods of casting vote. These methods include a Postal vote, vote by the spouse and other measures that could be used as indirect voting. More to the above-mentioned amendment, in the provisions of Section 60 of the Act, the Bill is gender-neutral. It has replaced the word “wife” with the “spouse”. This has enabled any of the spouses whether husband or wife to cast their votes on their behalf.
If and when passed, this amendment is sure to meet the requirements of NRIs to exercise their voting right in their country.
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