New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought to know from the Central government the time it would require for bringing a bill amending the Representation of People Act to allowing NRIs vote from their overseas locations.
The bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud sought to know the time frame after Attorney General KK Venugopal told court that a Team of Ministers (ToM) have recommended such an amendment.
The Team of Ministers in their meeting on July 20,2017, have decided that to “facilitate external modes of voting to the overseas electors, amendment to the Representation of People Act, 1951 would be required by way of introduction of a Bill in parliament”, the bench was told. At this, the bench sought to know why the government was taking a cumbersome route of amending the electoral act when same could be achieved by amending the rules. The top court, in the last hearing of matter, had asked the central government to take a call whether it wanted to amend the act or the rules to decide on the modalities of the NRI voting from abroad.
In the last hearing of the matter, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the petitioners, had contended that the modalities of NRI voting can be done by amending the Rules and would not require amending the law.
Appearing for the Election Commission, senior counsel Meenakshi Arora told the bench that by amending the rules, that they can put in place modalities of voting by the overseas electors, but it was necessary to amend the law to create an exception for overseas voters.