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A Bill to amend the electoral law to allow voting rights to the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will be tabled in Rajya Sabha in the upcoming winter session, the Central government on Friday told the Supreme Court.
The Lok Sabha had earlier passed the bill on August 9.
Once the Bill is passed and enacted, more than 25 million overseas Indians/NRIs will be able to vote through postal or e-ballots.
A division bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slated the hearing for January 2019 after hearing the submission of Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni.
The court was hearing the petitions filed by two NRIs, Shamsheer VP from Kerala and Nagender Chindam, chairman of the United Kingdom-based Pravasi Bharat.
The petitions said 114 countries, including 20 in Asia, have adopted external voting, which could be held by setting up polling booths at diplomatic missions or through postal, proxy or electronic voting.
Currently, only defense personnel are permitted to vote through a proxy. However, the facility for the NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by the services personnel.
According to the proposal, the NRI voters will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election and one person can act as a proxy for only one overseas voter.
Due to the high travel cost and time involved, only a few NRIs come to India to cast their votes.
In July earlier this year, Attorney General K K Venugopal had told the court that NRIs could not be allowed to vote by merely changing the rules made under the Representation of People Act and a Bill was needed to be introduced.
The court had asked the Centre to make a decision whether it would amend the electoral law or rules to permit NRIs to vote by postal or e-ballots in the polls in the country.
The court took note of the fact that the Centre and the Election Commission were complying to the report of a panel that NRIs might be allowed to vote.
By Sowmya Sangam