The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to apprise it within a week as to whether it is going to amend the election law or rules for enabling non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote in polls here.
A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud considered the statement that the Centre and the Election Commission have agreed to the proposal in principle and the only issue is the ways to effect it.
The proposal can only be implemented after Parliament amends the Representation of the People Act and the Conduct of Election Rules.
The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs — of whom 24,348 are registered with the EC — to vote through a postal ballot will offer expatriates a chance to participate in the country’s electoral process without having to be physically present at the polling stations.
The process that the EC is considering to adopt is the one-way postal ballot system which involves sending e-ballot papers to the voters. The voter are then required to return the ballot by post after having marked their choice. The system was introduced for armed forces personnel and service voters in October last year, said reports.
Earlier this month, the Election Commission had told the Centre that it can initiate the process of granting voting rights for NRIs within three months of the law being introduced, the Hindustan Times had reported. Nasim Zaidi, who was the chief election commissioner at the time, had said that the poll panel was ready to implement the one-way postal ballot system, if the government was to allow it.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions, including one filed by one Nagender Chindam and another by Shamseer V P, on various issues including NRIs should be allowed to vote through postal ballot.