None of the Above (NOTA) Issue

None of the Above (NOTA) Issue

Earlier Representation of People’s Act had provision that elector not wishing to vote for any candidate had to inform the Presiding Officer about his decision
Supreme Court’s decision Declared above provision to be ultra vires Article 19 of constitution
– Directed Election Commission of India to provide a NOTA option on the EVM and ballot papers (Reason = secrecy).

Positive  features  in  NOTA

  • Ensures Freedom of expression
  • Introducing  a  NOTA button  can  increase  the  public  participation  in  an  electoral  process. 
  • NOTA  option  gives  the  voter  the  right  to  express  his  disapproval  with  the kind  of  candidates  that  are  being  put  up  by  the  political  parties

Negative  features  in  NOTA

  • As  per  present provisions   , candidate  who  has  polled  the  largest  number  of  valid  votes  is  to  be  declared elected  .  NOTA  do  not  mean  rejection.    

NOTA  can  only  work  when  it  is  paired  with  Right  To  Recall  option  where voters  can  recall  candidates  they  have  elected. In such situation, NOTA will act as  a  pre-cursor  to  public  displeasure. 

Right to Reject

  • June 2018 : Maharashtra State Election Commission (MSEC)  made an order for local body polls that fresh elections should be held if NOTA ‘emerges winner’. 
  • Dec 2018 :Haryana State Election Commission going step further made an order that if all the contesting candidates individually receive lesser votes than NOTA then not only would “none of the contesting candidates be declared as elected,” but “all such contesting candidates who secured less votes than NOTA shall not be eligible to re-file the nomination/contest the re-election.”

With two State Election Commissions showing the way, the remaining State Election Commissions and the Election Commission of India should follow suit so that political parties are compelled to nominate sound candidates, and are forced to accept the will of the people, as desired by the highest court in the land.

Side Topic : NOTA & Rajya Sabha Elections

  • Matter came up in August 2017. It was allowed during Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections
  • Aug 2018 :  Supreme Court  scrapped the use of NOTA option in coming Rajya Sabha elections.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra held that

  • NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in  Rajya Sabha.
  • NOTA in indirect elections, such as in  Rajya Sabha, would lead to horse-trading, corruption and use of extra constitutional methods to defeat a party candidate.

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