NRI voting gets a step closer

Following up on its statement from July, the Indian government last week informed the Supreme Court of India that it was planning to introduce a Bill amending the Representation of the People Act to allow proxy voting rights to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament.

NRIs are allowed in principle to vote in the 2019 elections.
NRIs are allowed in principle to vote in the 2019 elections. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

This was conveyed to a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud by the Centre’s counsel PK Dey during the hearing of a petition seeking voting rights for NRIs. Though the Centre sought six months’ time, the bench deferred the hearing by 12 weeks.

On July 21, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the court that a Bill was needed to be introduced in Parliament to amend the Act to grant voting rights to NRIs, the Indian Express reported. He added that that merely changing rules made under the Act would not suffice.

The court had on July 14 asked the Centre to decide whether it would amend the electoral law or rules to allow NRIs to vote by postal or e-ballots in the polls, taking note of the fact that the Centre and the Election Commission of India were agreeable to the report of a panel that NRIs might be allowed to vote. The poll panel had said the move to allow NRIs to use proxy voting would require changes either in the Representation of the People Act or in the rules made under the Act.

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Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. 


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