Elected representatives as voters in the Rajya Sabha polls were not bound by law to vote in the manner desired by their parties, the Election Commission of India told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Referring to a decision rendered by the apex court in the 2006 Kuldip Nayar case, the EC said in an affidavit that this showed that “there is no mandate under the law that an elector must vote in the manner decided by the political party to which he belongs and that he has no right to not vote for any candidate if he so wishes under section 79(d) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as no disqualification is mandated for cross voting thereon in any election to Council of States”.
The affidavit was filed in response to a plea by the Gujarat Congress challenging the introduction of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha polls held recently in the state. Explaining this further, the EC said that elections were governed by The Representation of the People Act, which made no distinction between direct and indirect elections. As such elected representatives were also voters and the Supreme Court had previously held that every voter has the right to vote or not to vote, it contended.
The EC in its affidavit said that the the April 2017 Gujarat elections was not the first time NOTA was used in Rajya Sabha polls. The affidavit recalled that the Supreme Court had in the PUCL case in September 2013 recognised NOTA and directed that the same be introduced in ballot papers and EVMs.
Subsequently, the poll panel on April 21, 2014 directed that NOTA will be applicable in Rajya Sabha elections too, it said.
Requesting the court to dismiss the petition, the poll panel said there was no infringement of the petitioners rights and that the move was an abuse of the process of law. If the petitioner wanted to challenge the election, he could do so only by filing an election petition, it added.