New Delhi: The Indian Supreme Court on Friday gave one week to the central government to decide on giving voting rights to Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
The top court asked the Narendra Modi government to apprise it as to whether it was going to amend the law for enabling NRIs to vote in elections.
“The central government has accepted in principle the Election Commission’s October 2014 proposal to give voting rights to Non-Resident Indians. 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 court bench, comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions on several electoral issues including the ones on whether or not NRIs should be allowed to vote through postal ballot.
“We have noted the central government’s submission that Non-Resident Indians can be allowed to vote through postal ballot by either changing the Representation of People Act, 1950, or by amending the rules made under the RP Act,” the bench added.
There are over 10 million NRIs, of whom 24,348 are registered with the Election Commission (EC).
If the central government agrees, NRIs can vote through a postal ballot and participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations.
Earlier this month, the EC had informed the central government that it can pull off the process of introducing voting rights for NRIs within three months of the law being introduced.
The one-way postal ballot system involves sending e-ballot papers to the voters, which are returned by post after the voters have marked their choice.
The system was introduced for armed forces personnel last year.