Dubai – The Government of India has been given two weeks’ time to confirm legal amendment that will allow millions of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) living across the global to vote from abroad in elections back home.
The Government told the country’s Supreme Court on Friday that it would amend the existing electoral law.
A team of ministers considered the matter in a meeting on Thursday, and decided that amendment to the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 would be required by way of introducing a bill in parliament.
The Representation of People’s Act, 1951, which governs elections in India, requires a voter to be present in his or her constituency to cast the vote and NRIs were not eligible to register as voters until that provision was amended in 2011. The 2011 amendment made by the previous Manmohan Singh Government enabled NRIs to vote if they are present in their constituency on the day of voting.
Attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, the top law officer of the government, told the court on Friday that there are nearly one million NRI voters across the globe and only 10,000 come to India for voting. According to the Election Commission of India, only 24,348 NRIs have registered as voters.
That the attorney-general himself appeared in the court shows the government’s seriousness in the case. Last week, an additional solicitor-general, comparatively a junior level officer, appeared for the government.
Mukul Rohatgi, the former attorney-general, representing Dr Vayalil, argued for a committed time frame to effect the legal amendment, but the present attorney-general sought time to take further instructions from the government, which was granted by the court.