New Delhi: The government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that a note on proposed changes in the bill to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to vote in Indian elections had been placed before the cabinet for its consideration.

New suggestions include allowing NRIs to vote by proxy and through e-ballots.

A three-judge bench comprising chief justice H.L. Dattu, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy granted the government two months time to incorporate the proposed changes in a bill aimed at amending the Representation of the People Act.

The court had asked the Election Commission in April to suggest alternative methods, such as proxy voting and e-ballots, to ensure that NRIs could vote. These suggestions were then referred to the Centre for its consideration.

Political parties were divided on the issue. Opposition parties, especially the Left, is of the opinion that this step can lead to manipulation. Senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that since the matter is before the cabinet, the party will wait for the government to make its stand clear.

“The government and BJP as a party cannot have different views. We will wait for the stand taken by the government. Let the government decide on the issue and party’s position will also be the same," said a senior BJP leader.

The Congress party was unavailable for a comment.

Although the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday did not have a comment on the proposed changes, the party had earlier raised a memorandum against the guidelines issued by the Election Commission (EC).

“We did give a memorandum at the time. The kind of guidelines given by the election commission is unacceptable. Many of the proposed changes by the EC give ample scope for manipulation and proxy voting. Let’s see what changes have been made by the government," said CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat.

Pretika Khanna, Gyan Varma and Anuja contributed to the story

Close