The Supreme Court said that the option of NOTA (None of the above) cannot be used in Rajya Sabha elections.
A bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra observed that NOTA should be applied in direct polls only.
As per the court, the NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
NOTA in indirect elections, such as in the Rajya Sabha, would lead to horse-trading, corruption, and use of extra-constitutional methods to defeat a party candidate.
NOTA also makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose.
The use of NOTA cannot be sanctioned by way of the impugned circulars which has the effect of overriding the provisions of Article 80(4), the provisions of Representation of People Act 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules 1961.
The circular was ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and tainted with malafides, as an executive instruction cannot override express statutory provisions.
The option of NOTA for Lok Sabha and assembly elections was prescribed by the SC in 2013. The option of NOTA in RS polls was introduced by the EC in 2014. Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.
The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.
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”.