Non-Resident Indians may soon have Voting Rights


Merely days after adding more to the benefits to Persons of Indian Origin, the Government of India (GoI) is now believed to have given its consent to the recommendation of a committee that favored voting for Non-Resident Indians (NRI) through electronic means.

The BJP-led NDA government has always been firm on its stand on the issue of granting voting rights to NRIs. The government plans to update the Supreme Court on the issue this week by clarifying that it accepts the recommendations of the committee, including e-ballot for NRIs.

The issue was brought to the notice of the apex court through a petition. A committee consisting of officials from the Election Commission, Ministry of External Affairs and the Law Ministry had consulted all sections before submitting its final report to the Supreme Court last year.

If and when implemented, NRIs could be granted proxy voting right on the same line as defense personnel. However, the introduction of e-ballot facility will require changes in the law.

Under the proposal, electronic means will be adapted to dispatch ballot papers to eligible NRIs which they’ll have to fill up and return to poll authorities physically.

VS Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner recently stated that the Ministry of External Affairs was against the proposal of allowing NRIs to vote at Embassies. The ministry officials argue that it will be a logistical nightmare in some countries where the NRI population was more or less equal to the host populace.

“The committee is of the view that e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot is transferred electronically to NRIs and returned by post, can be employed after validation of the process and pilot implementation in one or two constituencies and then be scaled up for parliamentary elections if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections,” said the report given to the Supreme Court.