The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it had accepted Election Commission’s recommendation to extend voting rights to non-resident Indians through postal ballots. It, however, sought time to work out the modalities and implement the suggestions.
Additional solicitor general P Narasimha told the bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu that certain amendments were required in the election law. “Further steps need to be taken to implement the suggestions. Various ministries have to sit together and concur on the formula to work it out,” he said.
“Since the views and recommendation have been accepted, let them go ahead with the follow-up. They will have to carry out the follow-up process at the earliest,” the bench noted. The court gave eight weeks time to the Centre to complete the formalities.
The bench also asked the EC for its response on another plea in which a direction has been sought to let migrant labourers vote from the place of their employment. EC has to give its reply within four weeks.
On November 14, the SC had asked the Centre to make its stand clear on the EC’s proposal to allow NRIs to cast their votes during elections in India through proxy voting and e-ballots. Government response was sought on the proposal prepared by a 12-member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, deputy election commissioner, for ‘Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors.”
The committee was 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.