Government to table Bill in
Parliament to allow NRIs to vote
November 10, 2017
A bill to amend the
electoral law to allow NonResident Indians (NRIs) to vote
through postal or e-ballots would be introduced in the upcoming
winter session of Parliament, the Centre today informed the
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar
and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of the Centre and
acceded to its request that the hearing on petitions seeking
voting rights for NRIs, be adjourned.
Lawyer P K Dey, appearing for the Centre, sought adjournment for
six months on the ground that the Bill would be tabled in the
Winter Session. However, the bench deferred the hearing by 12
On July 21, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the court
that NRIs could not be allowed to vote by merely changing the
rules made under the Representation of People (RP) Act and a
Bill was needed to be introduced in Parliament to amend the Act
itself to grant the voting rights.
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 in the country, taking note of
the fact that the Centre and the Election Commission of India (ECI)
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 on the lines of defence personnel and e-ballot facility
would require changes either in the RP Act or in the rules made
under the Act.
The Centre had said that in principle, it was agreeable to the
recommendations made in the report prepared by a 12- member
committee led by the deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutshi
to explore the feasibility of alternative options for voting by
Former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the
petitioners, had said that NRIs could be given the right to vote
by making changes in the rules only and there was no need to
amend the provisions of the RP Act.
The bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Nagender
Chindam, the chairman of London-based Pravasi Bharat
organisation and other NRIs including Shamsheer V P.
Earlier, the Centre had said that the draft legislation to
provide voting rights to NRIs through postal ballots would be
further revised before it is tabled in Parliament.
The apex court had
said it could not order the legislature to make or amend a law
within a particular timeframe and had granted time to the Centre
to effect changes in the statute to extend voting rights to NRIs
through postal or e-ballots.
It was submitted in one of the pleas that in Kerala, 70 per cent
of the people were NRIs who should be given this right keeping
in view their contribution to the country.
The PILs have said that 114 countries, including 20 Asian
nations, have adopted external voting. It said external voting
could be held by setting up polling booths at diplomatic
missions or through postal, proxy or electronic voting.
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