when and how will allow NRIs to vote, Supreme Court asks government

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The Supreme Court on Friday requested the government clarify when and how it will permit non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote in election.

At present, NRIs must be physically present in the nation to vote. Although a request has been rolled out that a change in the current rules would be sufficient to give NRIs a chance to vote like personnel of the armed forces, the government has been saying a legislative change is expected to encourage it.

A change in the law would take some time, Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni told a bench comprising Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud.

However, some NRIs said that it would be easier to simply change the rules and set the stage for it.

“Let us know whether you need to change the rules or change the law. In either case, give us a time by which you can do it,” the CJI told Nadkarni. A particular plea to permit such voting was made on behalf of 10 million NRIs from Kerala.

The bench then asked the government and the Election Commission to give their views on the issue soon. The court had before permitted military’s personnel to vote through postal ballot.

NRIs are additionally looking for equality with people of the military as to voting. They say they too should be permitted to exercise their polls through post. The other alternative of having some sort of proxy voting was not acceptable to the Election Commission and the legislature.

Showing up for some NRIs, previous Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that although a change in rules will enable NRIs to vote through postal ballot, nothing had been done since 2014.

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