The Commission, however, told a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan that it is almost impossible to make any such arrangement for NRI to cast their votes from overseas in the ongoing general election as electoral rolls have been concluded in almost all the constituencies. The bench, however, asked the Commission to do something in this election itself. "You still have time," the bench said and wondered whether NRIs, who are registered voters, can be allowed to use their franchise through postal ballot. "Why don't you examine at least this (regarding 11,844 registered NRIs)," it said.
The Election Commission submitted that it has appointed a committee to explore the possibility of allowing NRIs to cast their votes from overseas. The bench then asked the Commission to file their response and posted the case for hearing on April 11.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NRI Shamsheer VP, who 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. He submitted that a total number over one crore people will be entitled to cast their vote if NRIs are allowed to vote from overseas.
The PIL said 114 countries have adopted external voting and amongst it are 20 Asian countries. It said that the external voting could be by setting up polling booths at the diplomatic mission, or by postal, proxy or electronic voting.
Shamsheer migrated to the UAE 12 years ago prior to which he was enrolled as a voter in his hometown of Calicut, Kerala and had voted in the elections. Subsequently he was removed from the voters list because of his NRI status.