SC asks Centre, EC to reply to plea seeking voting rights for NRIs

SC asks Centre, EC to reply to plea seeking voting rights for NRIs

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and the Election Commission to respond to a plea seeking permission for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to exercise their franchise from locations abroad.

 A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Vikramjit Sen issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the poll panel on the public interest litigation filed by Shamsheer V P, a doctor by profession, living in the UAE.

The petitioner contended that the existing provision under Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act (Amendment), 2010, that mandated physical presence of the NRI voter in the constituency to exercise his vote was discriminatory and violative of fundamental rights under Article 14 (equality before law) guaranteed under the Constitution.

He sought reading down of the legal provision and recognition of the right to external voting claiming that out of over one crore NRIs, only 11,000 had registered themselves as voters.

“A total of 114 countries have adopted external voting, including 20 Asian countries. These 114 countries have adopted numerous methods enabling the external voter to cast vote by allowing personal voting at designated place in voters’ location, besides postal, proxy and electronic voting,” the petitioner, through his advocate Haris Beeran, said.

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