NRIs must be allowed to e-vote within 8 weeks: SC

This post was originally published on 12 January 2015.

In a significant decision, The Supreme Court today directed the central government to enable e-voting by NRIs within eight weeks.

This would enable an estimated 11 million NRIs globally to participate in elections without having to travel to India for the purpose.

The government told the court that it has approved e-ballot voting for Indian passport holders abroad, recommended by the Election Commission in a report, and it would have the process in place after amending laws.

E-ballot voting should be allowed “at the earliest,” the Supreme Court told the Centre, in heartening news for an estimated 11 million NRIs across the world.

How will NRIs cast their votes?

In e-voting, a blank postal ballot paper is emailed to the voter, who has to then fill it and mail it by post to their constituency. There is very little risk of manipulation, rigging or violation of secrecy in this system, the commission has reportedly said. It had also suggested that NRIs should be allowed to vote by proxy.

The story so far

For years, NRIs were deprived of voting rights if they had been out of the country for more than six months at a stretch.

In 2010, NRIs were granted voting rights provided they were physically present in their respective constituencies during polls.

A petition challenged this as “inherent inequality”.

The court asked for a report from the Election Commission.

The Election Commission (EC) of India recommended e-ballot voting be allowed to Indians living abroad on Indian passports.

The Centre responded in approval to EC’s recommendation and submitted a plea to SC in this regard.

The Supreme Court directed the Central Government to enable e-voting by NRIs within eight weeks.

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