The Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that the None of The Above (NOTA) option cannot be made available in Rajya Sabha elections. A three-judge bench of CJI Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud observed that the NOTA option is applicable only for direct elections and not indirect elections such as the Rajya Sabha polls.
The top court, while hearing the petition of Gujarat Congress leader Shailesh Manubhai Parmar, had earlier said that by introducing NOTA, the poll panel was legitimising the act of not voting. Justice Chandrachud had pointed out that the rule in Upper House polls was an open ballot and the members by not transferring their excess vote to the next member would be violating the contract between parties. “If he doesn’t vote, party will expel him. But by making option of NOTA, you are legitimising his action,” added Justice Chandrachud.
Parmar had challenged the Election Commission’s notification allowing the NOTA option in ballot papers during the last Rajya Sabha polls, in which the party had fielded sitting MP Ahmed Patel. The Congress leader had alleged that if the NOTA provision was allowed in the Rajya Sabha polls, it would encourage “horse-trading and corruption”. The Centre has come out in support of the petition, while EC is opposing it.
Defending the use of NOTA, the EC said a member had the right not to vote and that would not be against the conduct of election rules or unconstitutional. The poll panel had said NOTA was first introduced in 2014 following an apex court verdict a year earlier and they (the Congress) did not have any objection in subsequent polls as it suited them.