Friday, September 27, 2013

SC directs EC to provide ‘None of the Above' (NOTA) button in EVMs

Sources: http://eci.nic.in

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Voter has right to negative voting: SC

PTI
Supreme Court on Friday directed the Election Commission to include negative voting in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by allowing voters to select none among the options. File photo
Supreme Court on Friday directed the Election Commission to include negative voting in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by allowing voters to select none among the options. File photo

Supreme Court on Friday directed the Election Commission to include negative voting in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by allowing voters to select none among the options. File photo
Supreme Court on Friday directed the Election Commission to include negative voting in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by allowing voters to select none among the options. File photo

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on Friday held that citizens have right to cast negative vote rejecting all candidates contesting polls, a decision which would encourage people not satisfied with contestants to turn up for voting.

The apex court directed the Election Commission to provide 'none of the above options' at the end of the list of candidates in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers to allow voters to reject those contesting polls.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy of elections and ensure wide participation as people who are not satisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their opinion rejecting contestants.

It said that the concept of negative voting would bring a systemic change in the election process as the political parties will be forced to project clean candidates in polls.

The bench noted that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries and even in India, parliamentarians are given an option to press the button for abstaining while voting takes place in the House.

The court said right to reject candidates in elections is part of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression given by the Constitution to Indian citizens.

It said that democracy is all about choice and significance of right of citizens to cast negative voting is massive.

With the concept of negative voting, the voters who are dissatisfied with the candidates in the fray would turn up in large number to express their opinion which would put unscrupulous elements and impersonators out of the polls, it said.

The bench, while reading out the operative portion of the judgement, did not throw light on a situation in case the votes cast under no option head outnumber the votes got by the candidates.

It said that secrecy of votes cast under the no option category must be maintained by the Election Commission.

The court passed the order on a PIL filed by an NGO, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) which had submitted that voters be given the right to negative voting.

Agreeing with the NGO's plea, the bench passed the path-breaking verdict and introduced the concept of negative voting in the election process, saying that it would further empower the voters in exercising their franchise.

The latest verdict is part of series of judgements passed by the apex court on the election process.

Earlier, the apex court had restrained people in custody from contesting elections.

The apex court has also ruled that MPs and MLAs would stand disqualified after being convicted of serious crimes.

The government has brought an ordinance seeking to negate the court's judgement striking down a provision in the electoral law that protected convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification.

A two-judge bench of the apex court had felt that the issue on negative voting needed to be adjudicated by a larger bench as there were certain doubts over the interpretation of the ruling passed by a Constitution Bench in the Kuldip Nayar Vs Union of India case relating to a voter's right.

Under the existing provisions of Rule 49(O) of the Representation of People Act, a voter who after coming to a polling booth does not want to cast his vote, has to inform the presiding officer of his intention not to vote, who in turn would make an entry in the relevant rule book after taking the signature of the said elector.

According to the PUCL, Rule 49(O) was violative of the constitutional provisions guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) (Freedom of Speech and Expression) and Article 21 (Right to Liberty) and violated the concept of secret ballot.

Courtesy_

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SC verdict: parties react cautiously, CPI(M) opposes

NEW DELHI, September 27, 2013

PTI

Political parties on Friday reacted cautiously to a Supreme Court verdict holding that citizens have the right to reject candidates contesting polls with CPI(M) saying that the judgement has led to an "abnormal situation" that needs to be corrected.

Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken said the judgement needs to be studied to see if the apex court has taken all aspects like overwhelming number of negates votes into account as reacting on the spur of the moment could be a little premature.

Implementation of the verdict will be difficult and it may create many problems, another party leader Rashid Alvi felt.

BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "We are in favour of electoral reforms. 25-30 years back we used to have elections once in five years but now we have elections every four months in some state or the other.

"To say whether this decision is right or wrong now would be hasty. Anything can be said only after studying the judgement," he remarked.

However, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury came out strongly against the verdict, saying, "This is an abnormal situation that needs to be corrected.

"Elections after all are the direct contribution of our parliamentary democracy. Neither the judiciary nor the Election Commission participates in the elections. It is the political parties which participate. Without even talking to them deciding like this, it is not a good sign," he said.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somanth Chatterjee also opposed the verdict, maintaining, "The Supreme Court has given its judgement, I don't think it is correct."

Welcoming the judgement, BSP chief Mayawati said, "Babasaheb Ambedkar was also in favour of right to reject."

In a landmark verdict, the apex court on Friday held that citizens have right to cast negative vote rejecting all candidates contesting polls, a decision which would encourage people not satisfied with contestants to turn up for voting.

Courtesy_

Also read FULL Text of SC Judgment at the following links



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