The Union Cabinet on 02 August 2017 cleared a proposal to extend the facility of voting by electronic means and proxy to Non-resident Indians (NRIs) by amending electoral laws. The Cabinet gave its nod to amend the Representation of the People Act. For overseas Indians, the Representation of the People Act needs to be amended to include postal ballot and proxy voting as other ways to cast their votes.
On July 21, the Supreme Court sought to know from the Central government the time it would require for bringing a bill amending the Representation of People Act to allowing NRIs vote from their overseas locations. In its earlier hearing, the apex court had asked the Central government to take a call whether it wanted to amend the Act or the Rules to decide on the modalities of the NRI voting from abroad.
While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, as per the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of proxy, which as of now is only available to service personnel. Another option would be to use postal ballots delivered to them by electronic means to cast their votes. This would mean amending the current laws governing the right to vote.
Appearing for the Election Commission, senior counsel Meenakshi Arora told the apex court that by amending the rules, that they can put in place modalities of voting by the overseas electors, but it was necessary to amend the law to create an exception for overseas voters.