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Supreme Court votes for negative vote
Updated: Apr 21, 2014 05:30 AM , By J. Venkatesan | 133 comments
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
‘None of the Above’ option in EVMs will force parties to field candidates known for integrity, says Bench

With a view to bringing about purity in elections, the Supreme Court on Friday held that a voter could exercise the option of negative voting and reject all candidates as unworthy of being elected. The voter could press the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) button in the electronic voting machine.

“For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen … for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values who win the elections on a positive vote.” Thus the NOTA option would indeed compel political parties to nominate sound candidates, said a Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, while allowing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

Writing the judgment, the CJI said: “Giving right to a voter not to vote for any candidate while protecting his right of secrecy is extremely important in a democracy. Such an option gives the voter the right to express his disapproval of the kind of candidates being put up by the parties. Gradually, there will be a systemic change and the parties will be forced to accept the will of the people and field candidates who are known for their integrity.”

The Bench said the NOTA option “will accelerate effective political participation in the present state of the democratic system and the voters will in fact be empowered.” The right to cast a negative vote, “at a time when electioneering is in full swing, will foster the purity of the electoral process and also fulfil one of its objectives, namely, wide participation of people.”

Not allowing a person to cast a negative vote would defeat the very freedom of expression and the right to liberty, it said.

The Bench held that Election Conduct Rules 41(2) and (3) and 49-O of the Rules were ultra vires Section 128 of the Representation of the People Act and Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution to the extent they violate secrecy of voting.

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Showing 10 latest comments
  • It is a welcome landmark judgment! The Government should consider the implications of this judgment and consider bringing about some amendments in the Constitution.In the coalition era, in the absence of an absolute majority, the largest single party is asked to form the Government.In order to muster the majority, the largest party depends on some regional party MPs/MLAs to support it and makes them participate in the Government.As a corollary of this judgment,no party obtaining a vote share less than that of NOTA in the country/State should be allowed to have a minister in the Government.No independent candidate should be allowed to become a minister.There can be a number of other implications that will be emerging that will purify the democratic process and governance if properly addressed.
    From: C H Mahadevan
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 19:33 IST
  • A good move indeed, hope it gets implemented at the earliest. A disqualification of the current list of voters may not be necessary by law if 'NOTA' gets majority, but this will bring in some more accountability on political parties to bring in the right candidate as their face for the polls. The voters can repeatedly bring the parties down till they are represented by the right candidate. This would force the political parties to think and act from a Voters perspective, hence bringing them closer to the People!!
    From: Sooraj
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 19:13 IST
  • Though this is landmark decision, next challenge would be to implement it in a true spirit. If 'non of the above' option has majority, then election should be cancelled and contesting candidate in such case should be barred from new election.
    From: Gajanan Warhekar
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 19:05 IST
  • Without a SC that is eager to protect the country and the people, the lame democracy and an infested parliament would have taken the country to the brink of disaster. The independence of SC has become a thorn on the side of the netas who otherwise enjoy a cart blanch freedom to conduct themselves all sorts of nefarious activities in the safety of the parliament. This is the prime reason they are now conspiring to change the method of appointment of the judges in SC. Citizens, beware! Kudos to the Supreme Court for their fearless and inspiring actions to protect the citizens of the country. "Satayameva Jayate" !!
    From: Saratchandran
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 17:51 IST
  • The apex court's judgment on right to negative vote is a sincere attempt to strengthen the democratic system of the nation. The system has lost the spirit and become dead due to political manipulations. Every party has been trying its level best to weaken the system. Now the Supreme Court deserves appreciations for its bold initiation. Hope the government won't obstruct the verdict with any ordinance against it as it happened in the judgment of disqualifying the offenders from the houses and contesting in elections.
    From: Sudhakar Reddy Kalathuru
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 17:28 IST
  • It is one of the many best judgements the hon'ble Supreme Court has pronounced. The people of India and specially common men, young energetics educated, deprived of financial strength will try to put their desire to serve the Nation with the support of right conscious and honest voters.
    From: K. K. Ghosh
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 17:14 IST
  • Though the Judgement of SC is welcome and a step in the right direction, yet the politicians would a worried lot. Though some have given reactions welcoming the judgement I do not know whether it has come from their heart. I will not be surprised if the Government would come out with an ordinance negating the judgement and call for widespread discussions in the standing committee and other committes and call for changes in the representation of people's Act. The politicians like Lalloo, Karunanidhi, Mulayam and other tainted leaders would be a worried lot and cannot digest this landmark judgement.
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 16:57 IST
  • what will happen if majority of the voters rejected all candidates ?. Supreme court should have given clear guidance regarding this. As a common man, I want all the candidates to be banned for atleast for 5 years or banned until next election.
    From: yuvaraj
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 16:34 IST
  • It seems court is in race with politicians in making popular announcements. Our great constitution makers were having wisdom and foresight. The court has changed constitution ( without having constitutional right to do so ) and without wider debate , consultation. This is dangerous. If court thinks that it has knowledge and experience and tools to make policy decisions having far reaching effects then let it disband parliament and run itself the country and save lot of money on elections and parliament.
    From: masa
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 16:24 IST
  • A landmark judgement by the CJI. Kudos to him and other judge who have made this possible.
    From: Hirain CKK
    Posted: Sep 27, 2013 at 16:18 IST