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Voter has right to negative voting: SC
Updated: Apr 24, 2014 05:30 AM , By PTI | 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

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.



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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.
    From: JAGANNATHAN
    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