After NRI, effort to give voting rights to migrants: Supreme Court told

New Delhi

The draft bill to provide voting rights to NRIs through postal ballots would be further revised before it is tabled in Parliament and the Cabinet would consider a note in this regard, government told the Supreme Court was informed today.

The government was also considering a demand for granting similar voting rights for migrants in the country who leave their native places and go to other states for work, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P L Narasimha said.

“The effort has been made by them,” a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said after Narasimha made the statement on the issue.

The ASG also informed the bench that a committee has been set up to look into the issue of voting rights for migrantsand its report will be submitted by September 15.

The bench, which also comprised Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, observed that the issue of extending voting rights to migrants, who move from one place to another in search of job, through postal ballots was being examined by the Election Commission.

The bench posted the matter for hearing after two months saying more time has to be given as the magnitude of work involved was enormous.

The issue of migrants was raised by advocate Prashant Bhushan who said since effort was being made to take care of the rights of NRIs, personnel of services and government officials, the same should be extended to the migrants.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Nagender Chindam, who is the Chairman of London-based Pravasi Bharat organisation and other NRIs including Shamsheer VP on the issue.

During the last hearing on April 13, the apex court had said it cannot order the legislature to make or amend a law within a particular time-frame and had granted time to the Centre to effect changes in statutes to extend voting rights to NRIs through postal ballots.

The Election Commission, earlier, did not favour extending the same benefit to migrants in the country.

“Scheme of the Representation of People Act is that a person can be enrolled only at the place where he is ordinarily resident, the question of any person migrating to a different place from his native place, enrolling himself in the electoral roll of his native place does not arise,” the poll panel had said in an affidavit.


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