Demand for NRIs to be given right to vote

Dr Shamsheer

 Dr Shamseer Valayil Parampath

As India holds its general elections within a month, a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of India, demanding the Indian Government provide  voting facilities to millions of overseas Indians.

The writ petition has been filed by Dr Shamseer Valayil Parampath, a Non Resident Indian (NRI) in the UAE, who approached the apex Indian court, demanding NRIs be given the right to vote in the countries where they live and work.

From April 7 to May 12, India will vote in nine phases to elect its next Prime Minister.

There have been occasional hunger strikes, Facebook campaigns and online petitions asking the Indian Government to allow NRIs to cast votes in countries where they reside and the Supreme Court has rejected some earlier pleas, but the UAE based  NRI  businessman is firm about his move.

Speaking to  Emirates 24|7, Dr Shamseer Valayil Parampath, said: “I have filed the writ petition in the Supreme Court because many NRIs have been talking about participating in the election process back home, but cannot do it because it is not feasible for many to travel to India to cast their votes.

“I used to cast my vote when I was in India. After coming to the UAE to work and then to run my own business, I don’t get time to travel home to participate in the elections. “While many other expatriate nationals in the UAE take part in their national elections, a vast majority of Indians are denied the same right.”

He said very senior Indian lawyers are being considered for arguing the case, which asks the Government of India to revoke a provision in the relevant rules.

Dr Shamseer is Managing Director of Life Line Healthcare Group in Abu Dhabi and is the recipient of the Pravasi Bharatiya Award this year.

“It is a writ petition for the basic civil rights of Indian citizens living abroad. For me there is no politics,” he said.

“When technology is so advanced and even the US is dependent on Indian software, why can’t we use the same for enabling our own people,” he said.

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