MHA to challenge poll panel order on Tibetan votes

[The Asian Age] NEW DELHI, Mar 28: The Union home ministry has decided to challenge the Election Commission’s decision to give voting rights to the children of the Tibetan refugees after the security agencies red-flagged the issue, citing very important international strategic and security considerations.

The move is likely to impact the outcome of Lok Sabha polls in four to six parliamentary constituencies having considerable population of Tibetan refugees.
The security agencies have pointed to the ministry of home affairs that implementing the order can have a serious impact on diplomatic ties with China, top sources said.
This is for the first time in 55 years that voting rights are being conferred on Tibetans in exile in the country.
Raising heckles in the Union home ministry, the EC in its order dated February 7 had said that children of Tibetan refugees born in India between the cut-off date of 1950 and 1987, as mentioned in the Citizenship Act 1955, can no longer be denied enrolment in voters’ lists.
The EC’s order is based on an August 2013 order by the Karnataka high court, which cleared the way for granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees.
Now, the home ministry has informed both the Election Commission and the ministry of external affairs about its decision to file a special plaint in the Supreme Court challenging the high court order.
The MHA is also peeved at the fact that the issue was not referred to it earlier and had not even been made a respondent in the matter despite the fact that ministry is the custodian of the Citizenship Act.
The court had instead made the MEA a respondent on behalf of the Central government in the matter, which in turn had gone on to agree with the court’s views on the matter.
It is following this court order, the Election Commission has asked all states and the Union Territories to include children of Tibetan refugees in the electoral lists.
There are about 2.5 lakh Tibetan refugees currently living across the country, with their largest settlement being in Bylakuppe in Karnataka.
The Lok Sabha seats that are likely to be impacted are Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Gangtok in Sikkim, Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, Shillong in Meghalaya and Mysore in Karnataka.



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