Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said the Committee set up by the Election Commission for exploring the options for providing other modes of voting to overseas (NRI) electors has recommended for voting though e-postal ballot paper and proxy voting as "additional alternative options".

"The Supreme Court has asked the government to submit its response to the said report. The matter is under consideration of the government," he said in a written reply.

Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides for facility of proxy voting to the members of the armed forces and members of the force to which the provisions of the Army Act, 1950 apply. But there is no provision of e-voting in the RP Act, Gowda said.

Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath had recently said that if the proposal sails through, then NRIs will be sent ballot papers electronically and they will have to return it to poll authorities "physically". He said the law will have to be amended for the purpose.

"The committee 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 and then be scaled up for parliamentary elections if found
feasible, practicable and meeting the objectives of free and fair elections," said the EC report given to the SC.

The 50-page report was prepared by a 12-member committee led by Vinod Zutshi, Deputy Election Commissioner, for 'Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for Voting by Overseas Electors'.

The report is the result of a public interest litigation filed in SC against the "inherent inequality" created by Section 20(A) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act which insists on the physical presence of an NRI in his local constituency at the time of voting.

According to EC website, after enrolment, an overseas elector will be able to cast his or her vote in an election in the constituency, in person, at the polling station provided for the part where he is registered as an overseas elector.

According to the provisions of the RP 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.

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