(PTI) Non-Resident Indians can hope to cast votes in their home country as the Rajya Sabha today passed a bill to provide them voting rights.
"We are not doing them any charity," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said, while replying to a brief debate on a bill that seeks to amend the Representation of Peoples Act.
He said by this amendment the country would be acknowledging their rights.
Referring to the proposed electoral reforms, Moily said the national consultations would be held in October-November.
Government, he said, would bring a bill in this regard, after consultations are completed and the report of an expert committee.
The bill, is aimed at providing Indians, who have not acquired the citizenship of any other country and are away, entitlements to have their names registered in the electoral rolls. The law minister clarified that the proposed legislation does not give NRIs right to contest elections.
Those having dual citizenship would also have no right to vote, he said.
Their names will figure in the constituencies in which their place of residence falls, as mentioned in the passport.
The Central government would specify, after consulting the Election Commission, the time within which the name of the persons shall be registered in the electoral rolls.
He said the right to vote, as demanded by citizens of India living abroad, is a legitimate one and conferring such rights will enable them to participate in the democratic process.
Earlier, participating in the debate, members raised doubts about how government would ensure that NRIs would be able to cast their votes.
The bill is yet to be introduced in Lok Sabha.