NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to take steps within eight weeks for implementation of e-voting by NRIs after being told that the government has accepted the Election Commission’s recommendation to this effect.
“The government has accepted both in letter and spirit the recommendation of the Election Commission. Further steps are to be taken to implement the suggestions in eight weeks,” said a Bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri.
The Centre’s stand was clarified by Additional Solicitor General P L Narasimha who said certain amendments are required to be carried out and the Ministry of Law is working on them, taking into consideration the EC recommendations.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Dushyant Dave told the court that the recommendation of the panel set up by the Election Commission could be carried out both by the executive order or by taking a legislative route.
On this the court said ‘’they ill take the follow-up action. If it is amending the law then they will amend and if it is through an executive order they will pass it.”
The court told the government to do it at the earliest.
Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, who appeared for the poll panel, told the court that for facilitating NRI voting as suggested by the expert panel would require amending the law as at present the votes could only be exercised at the polling booth concerned. On November 14 last year, the court had asked the Centre to make its stand clear on the EC’s proposal for allowing NRIs to cast their votes through proxy voting and e-ballots in polls in India. The court had then granted time to the government to respond to the proposal prepared by a 12-member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, for ‘Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors’.
In the report, the committee has said it is of the view that e-postal ballot, where blank postal ballot is transferred electronically to NRIs and returned by post, can be employed after validation of the process and pilot implementation in one or two constituencies.