No absentee voting for Indian diaspora this time

Updated 12 April 2014
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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.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.