Telanganites behind Supreme Court landmark order on NRI voting

Telangana NRIs – Nagendar Chindam and Srujan Chada played a crucial role in the campaign for NRI Voting.


The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the EC’s recommendation to extend voting rights to NRIs through postal ballots have been accepted in letter and spirit.

Taking note of the submissions, a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and A K Sikri asked the Centre to inform it about “further steps taken to implement the suggestions.”

The bench posted the matter after eight weeks, asking the Centre to do the needful at the earliest.

“Since the views and recommendation have been accepted let them go ahead with the follow-up. They will have to carry out the follow-up process at the earliest,” the bench said.

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.

On November 14 last year, the Supreme 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 apex court had then granted four weeks 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.

The report further said the process can be scaled up for Parliamentary elections, if found feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair polls.

The committee comprising officials from the EC, Law Ministry and MEA had gathered opinion from all sections before submitting a report to the apex court.

The poll panel had contended that the move to allow NRIs to use proxy voting on the lines of defence personnel and e-ballot facility will require changes in the law and a legislative framework.

According to the provisions of the Representation of People Act, a person who is a citizen of India and who has not acquired the citizenship of any other country and is otherwise eligible to be registered as a voter and who is absent from his place of ordinary residence in India owing to employment, education or otherwise, is eligible to be registered as a voter in the constituency in which his place of residence in India, as mentioned in his passport, is located.

The court had earlier asked the EC to place before it the report of the committee set up by it to “study various available options for the purpose of NRI voting”.

The apex court was hearing a batch of PILs in which it has been contended that the existing provision which mandates NRI voter to be physically present in the constituency to exercise his vote was discriminatory and violative of fundamental rights.

The petitioners, have submitted that over one crore people will be entitled to cast their vote if NRIs are allowed to vote from overseas.

The PILs said 114 countries have adopted external voting and among them are 20 Asian countries. It said the external voting could be held by setting up polling booths at the diplomatic mission, or by postal, proxy or electronic voting.

Here are some reactions from the people who ran this campaign: 

“It is an important matter for millions of Indian citizens around the world;

It’s a historical decision in Indian democracy; it’s been great achievement for every Indian citizen living abroad, happy to know that Government of India accepted EC proposals for NRI absentee ballot in true spirit.

It’s an tribute to our founding fathers of India – Swamy Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Bheemrao were Non-Resident Indians at certain point of time in their lives.

Thanks to Honourable Supreme Court of India – without which we wouldn’t have seen this historical day,  Thanks to the Chief Justice’s court who first issued notices to centre and election commission of India back in Feb-2013 &  for directing EC for report absentee ballot .

This victory is dedicated to each and every supporter of Pravasi Bharat who have been part of this campaign either through signing our online petition or by participating in our demonstrations and London march…This is the day we were dreaming to see from over years.

Ours is a genuinely democratic struggle for the basic right of feasible voting. The purity of our democratic and legitimate struggle has made it possible. We have fought for it in the path shown to us by Gandhi Ji.  At the end our long lasting efforts have given fruitful results “

Jai Hind.

Nagender Chindam, Chairman Pravasi Bharat.


“This is a fantastic step forward for all Indians abroad. I am proud to be a part of Pravasi Bharat group, which is working very hard to realise this dream of absentee ballot. Whenever we NRIs talk about India, first we criticize about corruption and conclude with statements like “we can do nothing as we are staying out of India?”. But NOW I CAN keep my head high and say “I can be the change for India, being a proud citizen of India, if I am able to participate in our great democracy through epostal/online/proxy voting in the future elections.”

Arti Gujare, President,  Pravasi Bharat


“Millions of Indians living abroad will be now able to vote, looking forward to cast my vote from London through epostal/proxy ballot.  it’s good news for all those NRI citizens who really care about our nation’s well being & kudo’s to team Pravasi Bharat who did all hardwork for over the years, It is most happiest moment for us, What else I need as campaigner of NRI voting rights.”

Srujan Chada, General Secretary,  Pravasi Bharat


“Thanks to the petition by Pravasi Bharat, the Indian Election Commission & Government is now considered the proposed options for absentee ballot, which is great news. It is about time that the world’s largest democracy making provision for its citizens outside India to exercise their basic voting rights.”

Dr Amit Mukherjee, Events Lead, Pravasi Bharat


“To me, that moment proved something very very important – that a small group of ordinary citizens could bring about a positive change in our regulations. It proved that you don’t have to be rich, powerful or famous to be heard, you just need to have the right intent and right means.”

Preethi Dumpala, Core Member, Pravasi Bharat

 [With inputs from PTI]

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