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    NRI Commission demands voting rights for diaspora

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    Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Non-Resident Indians' Commission on Friday passed a resolution to request the Centre and Election Commission (EC) to make appropriate amendments in the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, to ensure voting rights to the non-resident Indians working abroad.

    The Commission is a statutory body constituted for the welfare of Non-Resident Keralites working outside India.

    The Centre had introduced a bill for this purpose which was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2018, but the same has since lapsed.

    Therefore, the Kerala NRI Commission decided to request the Centre to consider introducing the bill in the next session of Parliament considering the interest of the NRI community at large.

    The resolution was moved by commission member and NRI entrepreneur Shamsheer Vayalil, who is also a petitioner in the writ petition filed regarding this in the Supreme Court.

    "The central government may consider introducing the bill in the next session of the Parliament session considering the interest of the NRI community at large," read the resolution which will now be sent to the Ministry of Law and the Election Commission (EC).

    Commission chairman Justice P.D. Rajan said the right to vote for NRIs is a genuine demand.

    "This is the time that we step up pressure on the agencies concerned to implement this. Voting from the workplace would be a different experience for them. It would be a decisive step," he said.

    This fresh development comes at a time when a petition filed in the Supreme Court on the same topic last week came before a bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta, which considered the case and said it will be heard in April.

    "We are expecting a favourable decision from the Supreme Court. We would also approach the NRI commission in other states and request them to raise the same demand," said Vayalil.

    If implemented, millions of NRIs around the world would be able to exercise their franchise in the electoral processes of the nation. According to the estimate of the Ministry of External Affairs, there are about 3.10 crore NRIs.

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