Millions of Expats could Benefit from his Lone Fight

  • Millions of expats are just a step away from realizing their dream of obtaining the right to vote from abroad
  • Thanks to a one-man legal battle waged by a young NRI doctor from Kozhikode.
  • 37year-old Dr Shamsheer Vayalil boarded a flight from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi to oversee the case he has been fighting for the past seven months in the Supreme Court to ease the voting process for around one crore NRIs.
  • Shamsheer – a successful healthcare entrepreneur in the Middle East – sounded upbeat.
  • The conditions are favourable as the Election Commission has itself submitted a report in the court recommending proxy voting and e-postal ballots for NRIs.
  • Shamseer said: We hope for a historic judgment that would give voting rights to millions of expats.
  • For the past seven months, Shamsheer, founder and managing director of VPS Healthcare which runs a chain of 11 hospitals in the Middle East, has been pursuing the PIL with a missionary zeal.
  •  He has also spent a fortune to line up the country’s top legal brains like Harish Salve, Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave and previously Mukul Rohatgi to argue for his cause.
  •  Shamsheer said:We took up the matter just like we approach a critical corporate project.
  •  A special strategy team was set up and we got the best people on board including lawyers and former diplomats.
  •  The bills have run into millions as some of the legal luminaries charge around a million rupees for a single sitting,
  • He said though the Representation of People Act was amended in 2010 to allow NRIs to be registered as voters in electoral rolls, it made no difference as it required them to be physically present at their electoral constituencies to cast vote.
  • EC statistics say only 13,039 of the around 10 million NRIs have registered themselves as voters, and just eight of them exercised their franchise in the 2014 general polls.