In the month of July 2015, Hearing a petition to provide voting rights to Non Resident Indian which the Government of India has already agreed to bring out legislation for granting the voting rights of NRIs. Further, the Central Government in its reply also has informed the Apex Court for drafting a law to make provision for postal ballots for internal migrant’s workers in India.
A bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra and Amitave Roy was hearing a petition for extending the postal voting rights to NRI being filed by one Mr. Nagender Chindam and Mr. Samsheer VP both are NRIs.
The Election Commision, earlier did not favour extending the same benefit to migrants in the country. "Scheme of the Representation of Peoples Act is that a person can be enrolled only at the place where he is ordinarily resident, the question of any person migrating to a different place from his native place, enrolling himself in the electoral roll of his native place does not arise, the poll panel had said in an affidavit.
However, during the July 2015 hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PL Narasimha, who was representing the central government, told the court that a committee to consider such a law has already been set up and is expected to submit a report by September 15 after advocate Prashant Bhushan suggested that the government should consider extending the facility to the country’s migrant population. The bench added that the Election Commission was considering such a law.
Voting rights for the migrants was voiced in this blogspot earlier and it is a welcome step that millions of migrant workers in India who are being excluded from exercising their democratic rights to vote will now be considered to cast their right to vote even if they are away from their native constituency. It is also hearting to know that the petition which was argued to provide voting rights for the overseas NRIs is also being extended to give the same privilege and rights to the internal migrants.
It will be a historic day when the law will allow the poor, disadvantage unorganized migrant workers will equally participate in the democratic governance of the country.
The author is the Regional Head - Migration, AEAI SA. The article was published orginally in http://orissamigration.blogspot.in/.
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