In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the Election Commission to introduce a button providing for None of the Above (NOTA) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and also in the ballot papers in order for the voters to exercise their right to reject undeserving candidates in the election.
The bench of chief justice P Sathasivam, justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and justice Ranjan Gogoi said that “negative voting would gradually lead to systemic changes as political parties will have to respect the will of the people in selecting their candidates.”
“The mechanism of negative voting is necessary and vibrant part of democracy. The voter must be given an opportunity to choose NOTA button, which will indeed compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate,” the bench said.
“Voters participation explains the strength of democracy. Lesser voter participation is the rejection of commitment to democracy, slowly but definitely; whereas larger participation is better for democracy. But, there is no yardstick to determine what is correct voter participation. If introducing a NOTA button can increase the participation of democracy, then nothing should stop the same.”
“For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote.”
Hardly will anyone go and stand in a queue under the scorching sun to just press the “none of the above” button. People here are so lazy to exercise their new right. The apex court wants to give people greater choice but it is unlikely to make much of a difference to the electoral process. In fact, the electoral process would be in a shambles because of this verdict. The new provision of the right to reject provided by the apex court is not convincing and it will have several ill-effects. An election is held to elect somebody but here, in India, people will misuse it and won’t elect anybody.
Rule 490 of the Conduct of Elections Rules 1961 gives the voter an option to cast a null vote in an election by approaching the presiding officer. But there is no secrecy left in this.
If the rule of probability plays out and no candidate gets an adequate number of votes to win an election, the election commission or the aggrieved party will go to the court and seek necessary permission to conduct a re-election. So, doors of litigation will open again and pendency of cases will increase.
(As told to Kanu Sarda)