Current Voting Scheme does not allow NRIs to cast their vote remotely : Karnataka High Court
Sri Ravi M vs The Union Of India
Bench: Hon’ble Krishna S Ksdj, Hon’ble Vapj
2 May, 2023.
The writ petition (No. 9720 of 2023) was filed in the High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru by Sri Ravi M, a non-resident Indian (NRI) residing in Saudi Arabia. The petitioner requested the court to issue a writ of mandamus or any other writ or order or direction to provide the facility of voting to NRIs in their respective residing countries in elections. The provisions for NRIs to cast their vote are contained in Section 20 and 20A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, read with Rule 8B of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1960, and Form 6A. To register as an overseas elector, an NRI must fill out Form 6A, which can be downloaded from the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of the concerned state or the Election Commission of India. The completed form can be sent by post to the Electoral Registration Officer/Assistant Electoral Registration Officer of the concerned constituency or filed online on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of the Election Commission of India.
The right to vote is a creature of law, and the absence of such a right created by law cannot be granted.
The difficulties of granting the right to vote to NRIs while on foreign soil.
The respondent’s counsel argued that the right to vote is a creation of the law and cannot be granted in the absence of such a right created by law. They also highlighted the difficulties of allowing NRIs to vote while residing on foreign soil.
NRIs can register and cast their vote in Indian elections by following the process prescribed in the law.
The current scheme does not allow NRIs to cast their vote remotely.
Enabling NRIs to vote in absentia is a matter of legislative policy that falls outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary.
The judgment stated that NRIs can exercise their right to vote by following the process prescribed in the law. However, the current scheme does not permit them to cast their vote remotely, and they must present their original passport in person at the polling booth in their constituency to vote. The issue of enabling NRIs to vote in absentia is a matter of legislative policy and falls outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary. The courts cannot direct the formulation of such policies as a binding rule of conduct due to the doctrine of separation of powers.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SHREEYA S SHEKAR