Electoral Reforms In India

Mulling remote Voting facility for NRIs: Govt. tells SC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NRI, OCI, PIO

Mains level: Voting rights issue

The Union government has said that it was considering ways to facilitate non-resident Indians (NRI) to cast their votes remotely while ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.

Who are the NRIs?

  • Overseas Indians, officially collectively known as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).
  • NRIs are Indian citizens who are not residents of India and OCI are people of Indian birth or ancestry who live outside and also are not the citizens of Republic of India.

Classification of Overseas Indians

(A) Non-Resident Indian (NRI)

  • Strictly asserting non-resident refers only to the tax status of a person who, as per section 6 of the Income-tax Act of 1961, has not resided in India for a specified period for the purposes of the Act.
  • The rates of income tax are different for persons who are “resident in India” and for NRIs.

(B) Person of Indian Origin (PIO)

Person of Indian Origin (PIO) means a foreign citizen (except a national of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Iran, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and/or Nepal), who:

  • at any time held an Indian passport OR
  • either of their parents/grandparents/great-grandparents were born and permanently resident in India as defined in GoI Act, 1935 and other territories that became part of India thereafter provided neither was at any time a citizen of any of the aforesaid countries OR
  • is a spouse of a citizen of India or a PIO.

(C) Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

  • After multiple efforts by leaders across the Indian political spectrum, a pseudo-citizenship scheme was established, the “Overseas Citizenship of India”, commonly referred to as the OCI card.
  • The Constitution of India does not permit full dual citizenship.
  • The OCI card is effectively a long-term visa, with restrictions on voting rights and government jobs.

Why need remote Voting facility?

  • There had been several petitions to allow NRIs to vote through postal ballots.
  • Many migrant labourers often find it beyond their limited means to fly in just to cast their vote.
  • Allowing NRIs to vote from abroad might emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics.


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