The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it proposes to give "proxy voting" rights to NRIs and proposes to amend the Representation Of People's Act for this purpose.
The Centre said it intends to introduce a bill in the ensuing Winter session of parliament.
After accepting the submission a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra granted 12 weeks time to government to carry out the exercise.
On July 21 The Supreme Court gave the Centre two weeks time to take instructions on how it will go about with the amendment of the Representation of People’s Act to allow Non Resident Indians to vote in Indian electioins from abroad.
At the outset, Attorney General K K Venugopal had then informed the court that a decision has been taken to amend the Act and not just amend the rules.
After a brief deliberation, a bench headed by then Chief justice J S Khehar dictated the order: “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”.
In a big leap towards permitting a 25 million-strong NRI population to vote in Indian elections from abroad, the Supreme Court had on July 14 said it had to be done at any cost and asked the Modi government to decide within one week how they planned to go about it.
A bench of chief justice J S Khehar and justice D Y Chandrachud was angry that the government had not made the necessary amendments (of the Act or Rules) in the Representation Of Peoples Act to allow the voting by NRIs despite repeated assurances to the court.
"This is a petition of 2014. Every year you keep saying we will amend we will amend. You said this in 2014, 15, 16 and again..this is not the way your government runs", an angry CJI Khehar told the Central government's counsel.
The court was hearing PILs filed by two NRIs - Shamsheer V P, an NRI from Kerala and Nagender Chindam, Chairman of the UK-based Pravasi Bharat seeking the voting rights.
“US lets you vote from space. Here NRIs are pleading for it. Texas laws have allowed astronauts, the right to vote when on a space mission”, says Chindam.
Why it mattered is because until now, due to the high cost of travel and time involved, only a minuscule population of the non-resident Indians (NRIs) came to their hometowns to cast their vote in India. However, e-voting will change this scenario and allow them to vote without having to fly down to India during elections.