None of the Above" (NOTA) in EVMIANS

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a plea seeking directions to the Election Commission (EC) to frame guidelines or rules, if in any election, all the contesting candidates individually do not surpass NOTA.

Issuing notice, a bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud sought the response of the ECI in the matter.

The plea filed by a motivational speaker Shiv Khera stressed on framing of rules to the effect that if NOTA gets a majority, the election held in the particular constituency be declared null and void and a fresh election be conducted.

It referred to various orders passed by diverse State Election Commissions providing that NOTA shall be treated as a "fictional candidate" and fresh elections were to be conducted in-case NOTA received the highest number of votes.

Paying for uniform implementation of the NOTA vote option, the petitioner sought directions that the candidates who poll fewer votes than NOTA be debarred from contesting all elections for a period of 5 years.

As per the petition, the ECI, in July last year, issued a letter stating that even if, in an extreme case the number of votes against NOTA is more that the number of votes secured by the candidates, the candidate who secures the largest number of votes among the contesting candidates shall be declared to be elected.

The PIL stated though the poll body incorporated and gave directions to include 'NOTA' in the ballot paper but failed to recognise NOTA as a valid vote, adding that when the apex court contemplated the NOTA button, it had in mind a system where a voter is simply refusing to vote for any of the listed candidates and thereby demanding fresh election, with a new set of candidates.

In 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the poll body to provide the option of "None of the Above" (NOTA) in all EVMs saying that a provision of negative voting would be in the interest of promoting democracy as it would send clear signals to political parties and their candidates as to what the electorate thinks about them.