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Hold polls where NOTA got most votes: petition

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Hold polls where NOTA got most votes: petition:


Context:

An advocate has moved the Supreme Court for a direction that fresh elections should be held in a constituency where NOTA (‘None of the above’ option) garnered the maximum number of votes.

  • Besides, none of the candidates who lost to NOTA should be allowed to contest the fresh polls.

Views of the advocate :

  1. If the electorate has rejected the candidates by voting for NOTA, the parties should be barred from fielding them again in the fresh polls. The parties should accept that the voters have already made their discontent loud and clear.
  2. Right to reject and elect new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent.
  3. Right to reject will check corruption, criminalisation, casteism, communalism. Parties would be forced to give tickets to honest and patriotic candidates.

Right to reject:

  • The ‘right to reject’ was first proposed by the Law Commission in 1999.
  • Similarly, the Election Commission endorsed ‘Right to Reject’, first in 2001, under James Lyngdoh [the then CEC], and then in 2004 under S. Krishnamurthy [the then CEC], in its Proposed Electoral Reforms.
  • Besides, the ‘Background Paper on Electoral Reforms’, prepared by the Ministry of Law in 2010, had proposed that if certain percentage of the vote was negative, then election result should be nullified and new election held.

The use of NOTA in elections:

  • The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013.
  • The option of NOTA in RS polls was introduced by the EC in 2014.

Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.

How is a NOTA vote cast?

The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.

Why have NOTA if there’s ‘no electoral value’?

  1. NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval.
  2. This, in turn, increases the chances of more people turning up to cast their votes, even if they do not support any candidate, and decreases the count of bogus votes.
  3. Also, the Supreme Court has observed that negative voting could bring about “a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates”.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is NOTA?
  2. Procedure to cast NOTA vote.
  3. When was it for the first time used?

Mains Link:

Right to reject and elect new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.