Voting rights for NRIs through facility available at the Indian Missions

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Voting rights of NRIs

The question why a tech savvy India can’t arrange for postal ballots for its expats has always been a matter of discussion. The Supreme Court on Monday attempted to give the Non Resident Indians across the world their right to cast their votes in the ongoing crucial five weeks Lok Sabha elections through Indian missions abroad.

This attempt was made just after granting permission to armed forces personnel to vote at their respective place of posting.

Justices KS Radhakrishnan and NV Ramana favoured the petition filed by NRI doctor Shamsheer who said that staff at Indian missions abroad can cast their vote at the embassy or High Commission premises, without being physically present in the country. The Election Commission should permit them to exercise their right through facility available at the Indian missions abroad. The bench also asked the Election Commission to respond to their petition by Friday.

Addition solicitor general KV Vishwanathan, on behalf of the Center was also in favour of the suggestion. Around 11, 844 NRIs have registered with the Election Commission and the bench told the EC to initially focus on them as they are already registered as voters.  The EC has already confirmed that it was thinking of constituting committees to give NRIs the option of electronic voting through the internet, thus ensuring a safe and secure way of participation in the election process by Indians residing in different parts of the world.

However, the bench was informed that the outcome of the Election Commission’s exercise will be known only by August which means that the NRIs will be deprived of participating in the ongoing general elections, one of the most important and crucial in the country’s 67 years of independence. Petitioner ‘s counsel Mukul Rohatgi argued on the fact that the Election Commission has almost made it impossible for the NRIs to cast their vote in the Lok Sabha elections when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,  on the other hand had already assured that persons abroad must have equal say in the country’s governance and thus voting rights for NRIs should be made available.