Punjab

Decide in one-week giving voting rights to NRIs: SC

July 15, 2017 10:40 AM

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave one week to the government to take a decision on giving voting rights to the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

The court said that the government has accepted in principle the Election Commission's October 2014 proposal to give voting rights to the NRIs.

The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs, of whom 24,348 are registered with the Election Commission, to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country?s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations.

The court added that the government will tell on coming Friday whether it will amend the Representation of People Act (RP Act) or rules for allowing NRIs to vote.

The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs, of whom 24,348 are registered with the Election Commission, to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country?s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations.

If it comes to fruition, the NRIs from states such as Kerala, Punjab and Telangana, which have large populations of NRIs, will stand to benefit.

Gives Centre one week to take a call

A bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud took note of the fact that the Centre and the Election Commission of India (ECI) were agreeable to allowing NRIs to vote as suggested in the report of a panel headed by Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi.

The poll panel had said the move to allow NRIs to use proxy voting on the lines of defence personnel and e-ballot facility would require changes either in the Representation of the People Act or in the rules made under the Act. “The only question that arises for consideration now is whether the Union of India (UOI) needs to accept proposals made in the report dated October, 2014, which have already been accepted in principle by way of an amendment of Sections 20 and 20A of the RP Act, 1950, or, alternatively, by a mere amendment of the Rules.

“Factually, on the instant aspect of the matter, the UOI had sought time on November 18, 2016. Further time is again being sought. We afford one further opportunity to the UOI to take a final decision, whether the proposals accepted by it need to be implemented by way of an amendment to the provisions of the RP Act or the Rules framed thereunder,” the bench said in its order.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, said NRIs could be given the right to vote by making changes in the rules and there was no need to amend the provisions of the RP Act.

The bench posted a batch of petitions filed by Nagender Chindam, chairman of London-based Pravasi Bharat organisation and other NRIs, for further hearing on July 21. “We are very happy to see the results coming through in positive way,” Mr. Chindam said in a statement.

 

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