17th June, 2019

Bill to let NRIs vote soon, Centre tells SC

In a landmark move, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is planning to introduce a Bill that would amend the Representation of the People Act. The amendment would allow the proxy voting rights to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). The bill would be introduced in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament.

The idea was conveyed to a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud by the Centre’s counsel P K Dey during the hearing of a petition seeking voting rights for NRIs.

The Centre had sought six months’ time, but the bench has deferred the hearing by 12 weeks.

Changing the Act is not enough

The court has also said that changing rules made under the Act would not suffice. The court had already asked the Centre on July 14 to decide whether it would amend the electoral law to allow NRIs to vote by postal or e-ballots in the polls. The court directed after the Centre and the Election Commission of India seemed agreeable to the report of a panel that said that NRIs might be allowed to vote.

The move to allow NRIs to use proxy voting would require changes in the Representation of the People Act or in the rules made under the Act, the poll panel had said.