Supreme Court to hear petition on NRI voting rights in January 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear a petition relating to voting rights for the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs in January 2019.

The two judge bench was informed by the Centre that a bill to amend the Representation of the People Act is likely to come up before the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of the Parliament.

A division bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta was hearing a batch of petitions filed by two NRIs – Shamsheer VP, an NRI from Kerala, and Nagender Chindam, Chairman of the UK-based Pravasi Bharat.

In July last year, the Centre sought two weeks to submit a reply in the apex court informing that whether it will amend the Representation of People Act to allow NRIs to vote.

Earlier, the apex court gave one week time to the central government to take a decision regarding the same. The court said that the government has accepted in principle the Election Commission’s October 2014 proposal to give voting rights to the NRIs.

The decision to allow over 10 million NRIs, of whom 24,348 are registered with the Election Commission, 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. If it comes to fruition, the NRIs from states such as Kerala, Punjab and Telangana, which have large populations of NRIs, will stand to benefit.