In a major development, 25 million Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) would now be able to cast their votes as the government has decided to give proxy voting rights to them, attorney general KK Venugopal told a bench of Supreme Court. “An amendment (has to) be made in the relevant central law (the Representation of People Act), and the government intends to introduce a bill in the winter session of Parliament for the purpose,” Mr Venugopal told an apex court bench on Friday.
SC has given 12-weeks time to the govt for carrying out the exercise. The top court was hearing plea submitted by VP Shamsheer, a UAE-based doctor and Nagender Chindam, chairman of Pravasi Bharat in the UK over the issue of granting voting rights to NRIs. The aforementioned petitioned had been pending in the apex court for almost three years now. “It is informed a meeting was held pursuance of which it was decided that it was imperative to amend the Act. We take on record the statement made by the ministry. Ld AG has sought a short adjournment to take further instructions in this regard,” a bench spearheaded by CJI JS Khehar said in an order.Earlier the Election commission of India (EC) had asked the government to take measures to amend the law so that NRIs could cast their votes. The commission had prepared a report named ‘Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors’ and presented it before the court in the year 2014.
The move will come as a big relief to NRIs who had to travel a long distance in order to be able to cast their vote. Only a minuscule fraction was able to come to the country having a big impact on the voting percentage which is likely to improve significantly in light of the development.