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Voting for NRI Sabha to go online

punjab Updated: Jun 29, 2012 16:25 IST
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra
Hindustan Times
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The NRIs may soon be able to cast their vote to elect the president of NRI Sabha at the click of the mouse. The Sabha has been contemplating introduction of online voting system during the next elections so that the members don't have to make personal visits, sabha chairman SR Ladhar, who is also Jalandhar divisional commissioner, told Hindustan Times here on Thursday. The polls are likely to be held near Diwali.

Ladhar, after presiding over a meeting of NRIs and former sabha office-bearers, said the process to develop the software for conducting online elections was being started. "We will issue identity and password to each NRI member to enable them to cast his or her vote online. Even the NRIs, on a visit to India, will not be required to stand in queues," he said.

Besides, the concept of NRI nominee, currently entitled to cast vote on behalf of the NRI member over the latter's inability to personally participate in the polls, would be abolished after the online voting system is introduced, he added.

As a part of series of poll reforms, the sabha also agreed in principle to adopt election pattern of the Election Commission. The returning officer, appointed by the sabha chairman, would issue the poll notification, describing the last date of submission of nomination papers by the candidates, date and time of scrutiny, last date of withdrawal and date of issuance of poll symbol. "Subsequently, the eligible candidates will be given one week for canvassing or to take legal remedy in case nomination of an ineligible person was accepted by the RO," Ladhar added.
The present election procedure is very cumbersome. Firstly, it's the duty of the RO to evolve consensus for one candidate through negotiations during a general house meeting.

On failure to build consensus, an aspirant will require fetching 10% votes of the members or their nominees present in the general house meeting that too by raising hands before being declared "eligible" for entering the fray. The nomination papers will then be submitted to the RO and polling would be held. "In such a scenario, the RO might not be able to apply his or her mind in verifying the documents attached with the nomination papers," he added.

Interestingly, Jagvir Singh Shergill, a US citizen, in a complaint to the union home secretary had alleged that Kamaljit Singh Hayre, a British citizen and OCI cardholder, had been elected as Sabha president in violation of the Indian Citizen Act and the Constitution. The role of the poll officials came under scanner following their decision to allow Hayre to contest the polls.

Since polls would be held after five months, it was decided to constitute a 20-member advisory committee to redress the grievances of the expatriate community, Ladhar said, adding that the panel would also hold monthly sangat darshans.