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SC confers right of negative voting in a landmark ruling

The Supreme Court [in Writ Petition (Civil) 161 of 2004] has said that a button should be provided on voting machines for a voter to reject all candidates contesting an election in his or her constituency. In a landmark verdict, the Apex Court said that for a vibrant democracy the voter has the right to negative voting.

As per the Apex Court the voters have right to reject all candidates contesting the elections. Consequently, it has directed the Election Commission to include “negative voting” by allowing voters to select None of the Above (NOTA) in EVMs and ballot papers.

Bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi ruled that negative voting would gradually lead to systemic changes as political parties will have to respect the will of the people in selecting their candidates. The judgment was pronounced by Chief Justice Sathasivam. The Bench held that Rules 41(2)  &  (3) and 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules are ultra vires Section 128 of the RP Act and of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution to the extent they violate secrecy of voting.

The Election Commission has been directed to introduce a button providing for NOTA in the EVMs and in the ballot papers. The Central Government has been asked to provide all assistance to the EC in the same.

The Bench observed that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries and that democracy is all about choice and significance of right of citizens to cast negative voting. It did not, however, throw light on a situation in which the votes cast under no option head out numbered the votes got by the candidates.

In 2004, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had moved the Apex Court with a plea that voters should have a right to negative vote. It had sought directions to Election Commission (EC) to make provision in the EVMs providing option “None of the Above” and the right to say NOTA should be kept secret.

Speaking to Live Law, Advocate Sanjay Parikh who was representing PUCL said, “This is a path breaking judgment. It will strengthen the democracy and benefit the voters. The Court has send a clear message to the political parties. The Parties will now rethink before fielding candidates with criminal background.”

The Apex court Bench of Justice B N Agrawal (since retired) and Justice G S Singhvi had in 2009 referred the matter to a larger bench and framed questions for the court to examine viz., “whether the right of voter to exercise his choice for the candidate is a necessary concomitant of the voter’s freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution”.

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  • Daljeet Singh says:

    Why not Law Commission consider the Legislature Reforms ( Election Reforms ) as per guaranteed by Constitution of India . Include Article 103 Clause 2 and article 361B in Representation of People Act 1951
    Its all ready the duty of Election Commission Disqualify the members from the Legislature on above Article
    Houses of Legislatures in India as per Article 325 President of India Vice President of India The Parliament Houses Governors States Legislative Assembly Municipalities and Pancyats
    Direct Democracy as per guaranteed by the Constitution of India one time Election of houses of Legislature after every five years ( Its a economic reforms save money in Election and invest in the welfare of India like USA China Russia France Germany
    Who comes in Legislature Elected Representative comes in Legislature by Election
    Our President of India is only Executives who comes from Election therefore he is bound in the Constitution and all Executive Power should be with President of India and All Legislative Power should be in the Parliament of India ( Its a democracy )

  • Daljeet Singh says:

    Its a land mark judgement on Legislature But What about Article 361 B Is it only for President of India and Vice President of India Why not for others Elected Representative in all others legislature .Till Article 361 B will not under Representation of People Act 1951 All the Elected Representative will be above the President of India in all others legislature . President of India and Vice President of India have to resigned before the Nomination and others Elected Representative have to resign after Elected ( here is corruption except President of India and Vice President of India others Elected Representative never resigned after Elected .
    What is Article 103 Clause 2 Its for Disqualification but our President of India is head of all high institution therefore Election Commission and Supreme Court of India have power for Disqualification
    Disqualification of Members for the legislature is also in the Public Accounts Commission as per Article 104 and Article 105 ( Duty of Public Accounts Commission Implement Transparency and Accountability agenda in Public Accounts of India as per Article 105 Article 148 ( union list in it ) Article 138 ( union list in it ) Article 194 and Sec 74 and Sec 39 in states list in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is for Public Accounts commission .