The Election Commission of India (EC) has proposed to change the rules pertaining to the conduct of elections to facilitate the electronically-transmitted postal ballot system for overseas Indian voters and the matter is being discussed with the Ministry of External Affairs to “iron out” logistical challenges in implementing it, Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
In a written reply, Mr. Rijiju said the total number of overseas voters on January 1, 2023 stood at over 1.15 lakh.
Also read: Explained | What is the status of remote voting for NRIs?
“The Election Commission of India has taken up a proposal to amend the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 to facilitate electronically-transmitted postal ballot system for overseas electors. The matter is under discussions with the Ministry of External Affairs to iron out the logistical challenges involved in the implementation of the proposal,” Mr. Rijiju said in his written response to a question from the BJP’s G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.
The Minister said that, on the recommendation of the EC, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to enable overseas electors to cast their vote, either in person or by proxy, was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2018. The Bill had been pending in the Rajya Sabha for consideration but lapsed when the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved.
Also read: Remote voting: On postal ballot for NRIs
In response to another question regarding judicial vacancies in High Courts, the Law Minister said there were a total of 334 vacancies in various HCs. “Presently, there are a total of 118 proposals recommended by High Court Collegiums, which are at various stages of processing. The recommendations against 216 vacancies in the High Courts are yet to be received from the High Court Collegiums,” he said.
While filling up of vacancies in the HCs is a continuous, integrated and collaborative process requiring consultation and approval from various constitutional authorities, vacancies keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges to the apex court, the Minister said.
Mr. Rijiju also said that though there is no provision for reservation in the judiciary, the government had been requesting HC Chief Justices that due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities, and women to ensure “social diversity” in appointments to the higher judiciary.