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NOTA (None Of The Above)

Topic covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

NOTA (None Of The Above):


Context:

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the Election Commission of India to respond to a plea that fresh elections should be conducted in constituencies where the highest number of votes polled are NOTA (None Of The Above).

Petitioner’s demands:

  • Candidates ‘rejected’ by voters should not be fielded again in the fresh polls.
  • The electorate will be armed with the “right to reject” and this shall provide a better choice of candidates to pick from.

Challenges:

  • If voters kept rejecting candidates, Parliament/Assembly seats would continue to remain vacant, affecting legislative functioning.
  • Political parties could also influence voters to not vote in a particular constituency.

The use of NOTA in elections:

The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.

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

  • NOTA gives people dissatisfied with contesting candidates an opportunity to express their disapproval.
  • 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.
  • 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”.

NOTA in Rajya Sabha:

  • The Supreme Court, in 2018, held that the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not for polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The court held that making NOTA applicable in Rajya Sabha elections is contrary to Article 80(4) of the constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment in PUCL v Union of India (2013).
  • It is because NOTA defeats the fairness in indirect elections, it ignores the role of an elector in such an election and destroys democratic values and encourages malpractices like defection and corruption.

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.