The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea challenging the provision of NOTA in Rajya Sabha polls, with a three-judge bench observing that the provision indirectly encouraged cross-voting by the members.
A bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which was hearing a plea filed by Gujarat Congress leader Shailesh Manubhai Parmar, told the Election Commission counsel, “Whether you vote or not is your discretion, but we cannot tolerate a mandate of NOTA”. The bench said this when EC’s counsel contended that a member had the right not to vote and that would not be against the conduct of election rules or unconstitutional.
The Centre has come out in support of the petition, while EC is opposing it. Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the rule in RS polls was 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. The CJI sought to know, “Can EC impose NOTA in Rajya Sabha polls?” and said, “I think the EC will be extending its hands where it’s not necessary.”