No absentee voting for Indian diaspora this time

Updated 12 April 2014

No absentee voting for Indian diaspora this time

India’s supreme court Friday ruled that absentee voting was not possible for the diaspora during the ongoing elections.
The court accepted the Election Commission’s argument that it was not possible for a review as the staggered elections were already in progress and an amendment was required in the election law, lawyers appearing for the petitioner said.
The petitioner, Shamseer V.P., a UAE-based entrepreneur, moved the court demanding e-vote or postal ballot.
The apex court bench of K.S. Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen observed that a detailed hearing was required on the subject and that the possibility of allowing absentee ballot for resident Indians should be considered.
The court had on Monday enquired whether it could be possible to allow the registered voters to cast e-vote or postal ballot before the end of the last phase of polling on May 14.
The Election Commission’s attorney told the court that e-vote was under the consideration of the panel formed to study the issue, both legal and technical.
Despite providing the online registration option for the diaspora as voters this time, the election authorities received less than 14,000 valid applications, 12,653 of them from the southern state of Kerala where every third household has a member working abroad, mostly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The court, which began the hearing on the petition last month, termed disenfranchisement of more than 10 million citizens living abroad as “a serious matter of concern” and wondered why it took so long to reach the court.
“This is a good beginning and going by the positive comments made by the court, we are just one step away from having the right to exercise our franchise established,” said Shamseer.
As per official data, 10,037,761 Indians live abroad and they are entitled to register online and vote only if they were present in their constituencies at the time of elections. They were also allowed to register online and send their documents for verification by post to be able to vote here.
But most of them abstain as they were not sure of voting due to the restrictions. A pro-government group chartered a flight for 147 registered voters from the UAE this week and a few have managed to travel to vote on their own.
According to Shamseer, the court appeared to have been convinced that e-voting allowing expatriate to cast their vote from the comforts of their home using a high security password was easier and effective as a foolproof system was already in place.
While welcoming the court move, Kerala’s Congress-led government announced that it would explore the possibility of allowing e-voting in the civic polls next year.


Defying lockdown, Londoners protest against George Floyd's death outside US embassy

Updated 1 min 1 sec ago

Defying lockdown, Londoners protest against George Floyd's death outside US embassy

  • A few hundred had earlier gathered in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London for a vigil that saw everyone kneel for nine minutes
  • UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called footage of the incident “very distressing”

LONDON: Hundreds of Londoners defied coronavirus restrictions and rallied outside the US embassy on Sunday in solidarity with protests raging across the United States over the death of an unarmed black man during an arrest.
The death of George Floyd in Minnesota has sparked five consecutive nights of often violent protests that resulted in National Guard troops patrolling majority US cities on Sunday.
The London protesters chanted “no justice, no peace” and held up “Black Lives Matter” signs outside the US embassy compound on the southern bank of the Thames River.
A few hundred had earlier gathered in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London for a vigil that saw everyone kneel for nine minutes — the amount of time the policeman kneeled on Floyd’s neck.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called footage of the incident “very distressing.”
But he refrained from commenting on US President Donald Trump’s explosive tweets and controversial public statements about the protests.
“I’ve long kept to the self-imposed guidance not to comment on what President Trump says,” Raab told the BBC.
Authorities will officially allow groups of up to six to gather in England — and up to eight in Scotland — starting on Monday as more than two months of restrictions begin to ease.