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SC dismisses PIL for voting rights of overseas citizens


New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL filed by a journalist seeking quashing of amendments made in Citizenship Act which deny voting rights to Overseas Citizens of India saying he cannot espouse the cause of people well settled abroad.

“The writ petition is by the people who are well settled abroad. The PIL is not for those people but for those people who cannot afford to approach this court,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said.

“You cannot be saying that I am trying to espouse the cause of these people (OCI),” the bench said when the counsel for the scribe, G Venkatesh Rao, pressed for taking note of his submission.

The bench also questioned senior journalist S Venkat Narayan for filing the PIL when he himself was not affected and those hit are keeping themselves away from approaching the apex court.

“Why are you holding the brief for others? The person really affected will come before us,” the bench said while disagreeing with logic that the journalist, who has travelled to 60 countries, was representing those having lost their Indian citizenship.

The bench did not agree that the present PIL should be treated on different footing than others including the one in which plea has been made for allowing NRIs to vote by electronic mode from abroad.

It concluded the hearing by saying that “we decline to entertain the writ petition and accordingly it is dismissed”.

“We make it clear that the dismissal of this writ petition will not come in the way of other petitions pending in this court,” the bench added.

The plea had said the denial of voting rights to persons having OCI status is violative of fundamental rights as it is “discriminative to a class of citizens of India who are not only being denied equality before law and equal protection of laws, but also rights and freedoms relating to life, liberty and dignity of the individual”.

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