The decks are cleared for enabling Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to vote during elections in India.
The government informed the Supreme Court on Monday that it has accepted the Election Commission’s (EC) recommendations for letting NRIs vote through proxy or an e-postal ballot system.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha submitted before a bench led by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu that the proposal by the EC was acceptable to the government in letter and spirit and that a committee had been set up to devise the modalities of implementation.
At this, the bench urged the Centre to issue appropriate orders and amend necessary laws to have the proposal implemented “at the earliest” and posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks.
Earlier, an EC panel had recommended that proxy and e-postal ballot could be considered for allowing NRIs to vote. In a report submitted to the Supreme Court by a committee formed to look into the issue, the EC had, however, ruled out the possibility of allowing NRIs to vote through the Internet or at diplomatic missions abroad for the time being.
The EC had said that “the option of voting through proxy appointed by overseas electors” as well as “e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot paper is transferred electronically to the NRI and returned by post” can be considered. According to the EC, the e-postal ballot system has almost no risk of manipulation, rigging or violation of secrecy.
The EC said the system can be initially tried in “one or two constituencies in elections to the legislative assemblies”. It added that the system can then be “scaled up to more Assembly elections and finally Parliamentary elections if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections”.
On proxy voting, the EC said that the facility of voting through an appointed person — ordinarily from the same constituency as the voter — is currently available to service voters belonging to the armed forces and paramilitary forces. The poll panel said that the “proxy voting facility would be a convenient, efficacious and doable method of providing voting facility to overseas electors”.
The EC had added that proxy voting could be considered as an option with the conditions that only one person acts as the proxy for only one overseas elector, that the proxy is enrolled as a voter in the same constituency as the overseas elector and that the appointment of a proxy shall be valid till the time it is revoked by the elector.