What happens if NOTA gets maximum votes? Supreme Court notice to poll body

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India Today

New Delhi, 26 Apr 2024: The Supreme Court on Friday, April 26, issued a notice to the Election Commission of India (EC) on a plea seeking directions to nullify the election results of a particular constituency and hold fresh polls if maximum votes are polled in favour of None Of The Above (NOTA) option.


The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by writer and motivational speaker Shiv Khera, also sought to frame rules stating that candidates who garner fewer votes than NOTA shall be barred from contesting all elections for a period of five years.


It further sought framing of rules to ensure proper and efficient reporting and publicity of NOTA as a "fictional candidate".


Senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan, appearing for Khera, cited the case where the BJP’s Surat candidate was declared the winner without any election as the nomination of the Congress candidate was rejected and other candidates withdrew their nominations.


"We saw in Surat that since there was no other candidate, all had to go for only one candidate," said the petitioner, adding that even if there is only one candidate, there should be an election as the voter should have the option to go for NOTA.


"The option of NOTA in the Electronic Voting Machines is the result of ’right to reject’ possessed by the voter in our electoral system... NOTA is seen as a right to reject belonging to the citizen in the present dispensation," the petition stated.


The petitioner said that the idea and purpose of NOTA is to put pressure on political parties to put up better candidates. "There continue to be instances when almost all candidates in a constituency have had pending criminal cases. What does a voter do? NOTA is a potent weapon in the hands of the voter."


The petition claimed that the EC’s lack of awareness and inconsistency on NOTA had defeated the option’s purpose as an instrument of protest against the "problematic" political and electoral system of the country.


"The Election Commission of India has failed to regard NOTA as a valid candidate which in a democratic form of governance is essential since NOTA, is not merely a citizen not voting but is actually a valid selection," the plea filed by Khera stated.


A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notice on the PIL and said, "This is about the electoral process also. Let us see what the Election Commission has to say on this."



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