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Centre Agrees to Amend Law, NRIs May Get to Vote from Foreign Land

Under the current legal regime, overseas or NRI voters can cast their votes only "in their constituencies", which require them to fly down.


Updated:July 21, 2017, 2:39 PM IST
Centre Agrees to Amend Law, NRIs May Get to Vote from Foreign Land
Image for representation. (Getty Images)
New Delhi: The Central government has agreed to amend the law wherein NRIs had to travel to India to vote during elections. Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the government has accepted in principle that the facility of voting from the foreign land could be extended to NRIs.

He said that a group of ministers met on Thursday and it was decided that the Representation of People Act will have to be amended to enable NRIs to vote without coming to India.

Under the current legal regime, overseas voters can cast their votes only "in their constituencies", which require them to fly down.

Venugopal said that there are more than a million NRI voters but only 10,000 come to participate in the electoral process. "It has been decided that an amendment will be drafted and brought before the Parliament," he added.

In reply to a question by a bench led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, the AG said it was not possible to bring in a Bill in this regard in the ongoing session of the Parliament.

When the bench asked Venugopal to specify a timeline for the preparation of the amendment, the AG sought two weeks to respond.

Venugopal added that the Election Commission suggested a move wherein e-ballot papers could be sent to the NRIs, who could then send it back.

Last week, the bench had sought to know whether an amendment to the act was required to enable NRIs voting from their place of residence.

Earlier, an EC panel had recommended allowing voting for the NRIs through proxy and e-postal ballot. The poll panel had ruled out the possibility of allowing NRIs to vote through the Internet or at diplomatic missions abroad for the time being.

In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the EC had said that “the option of voting through proxy appointed by overseas electors...” as well as “e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot paper is transferred electronically to the NRI and returned by post” can be considered.

The EC report was submitted by a committee formed to look into the issue following a Supreme Court order on a PIL filed by NRI Nagender Chindam. The petition, argued by Counsel Haris Beeran, said it is discriminatory and violates fundamental rights.

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