Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Particulars of the Bill
Mains level: Importance of overseas Indian voters in Election
- A bill to extend the facility of ‘proxy voting’ to overseas Indians, on the lines of service voters, was passed by the Lok Sabha.
- Proxy is not a negated word. It is now a legal and defined word.
- The Bill was passed by a voice vote in the Lower House, proposes that overseas Indians, who are entitled to vote in India, could now appoint a proxy voter to cast their votes.
Proxy Voting Bill
- As of now, overseas Indians were free to cast their votes in the constituencies where they were registered.
- The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which until now was only available to service personnel.
- According to estimates of the Ministry of External Affairs, there are about 10 crore NRIs living in different countries across the world.
- While framing the rules, the government will ensure that the system of proxy voting is not misused by anyone.
- On the issue of allowing migrant workers to vote without having to travel to their place of residence, Prasad said it was “work in progress our sympathies are with them they should be given the right to vote.” Some members demanded that the facility of postal ballots to be extended to them.
- Provision for e-voting has several difficulties in implementing in a large country like India due to security concerns.
Reducing travel expenses
- Unofficial data with EC shows that only 10,000 to 12,000 overseas voters have exercised their franchise because they do not want to spend foreign currency to come to India and vote.
- The necessary provision of coming to India to cast ballot caused hardship for overseas electors.
Provision related to Spouses of Service Voters
- As of now, an army man’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law.
- The bill proposes to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, thus making the provision gender neutral.
- Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.
Concerns with the Bill
- This facility could be misused by political parties by persuading the proxies appointed by the NRIs.
- The foreign missions attempts to elections of India by distributing literature to influence the voting pattern in favour of the ruling party.
- There should be e-voting for NRIs to prevent misuse.
- As regards migrant workers provisions should be made to allow them to vote at their place of residence.
- It could lead to vote to trade.