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HC rejects plea for NRIs to vote abroad

The court observed voting as a creation of the law and not a fundamental right.

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The Karnataka High Court denied a PIL petition filed by registered non-resident Indian (NRI) voter Ravi M seeking permission for NRIs to cast votes in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly Elections from abroad. The petition claimed that there are over 600,000 qualified NRI voters spread throughout the world.

Given the rules established by the Supreme Court, the plea filed by M Ravi, an NRI from Mysuru, was denied by a vacation division bench comprising Justices Krishna S. Dixit and Vijaykumar A. Patil. The court noted that the legislation governing elections has changed over time. According to the laws, the right to vote or run for office in elections is a product of special law, subject to the restrictions imposed by it, and is not a civil or fundamental right.

Ravi, who has been employed as a certified nurse in Saudi Arabia since 2008, requested the Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka to provide polling places in Indian embassies or to open postal voting services for Indians residing overseas in his plea.

A non-resident Indian (NRI) who has moved to a foreign country is eligible to join the electoral roll in India under the terms of Section 20A of the Representation of People Act, 1950. The voting rights of NRIs have been taken into account by the Indian Election Commission (ECI). Following a decision by the Indian Cabinet, the ECI has made it possible for Indians living abroad to register as overseas electors on electoral registers prior to the 2019 general election.

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