The Election Commission of India (ECI) on September 11, 2018 withdrew the provision of NOTA (None of the above) option from ballot papers of the Rajya Sabha and the state’s Legislative Council polls as per the Supreme Court directive.
The ECI, through the notification, ordered the returning officers for Rajya Sabha and legislative council to ensure that there is no NOTA column displayed in the ballot paper.
The NOTA option will be available only in Lok Sabha and state’s assembly election.
The Supreme Court on August 21, 2018 ruled that the ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) option will not be applicable for voting in the Rajya Sabha elections. NOTA could continue to be an option in the direct elections such as the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.
A bench of CJI Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had set aside the EC’s notification allowing the NOTA option in the ballot papers for the Rajya Sabha polls.
The CJI led bench held that the NOTA option is meant only for the general public in direct elections and not for the polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
The NOTA decision by SC was taken on a petition filed by Gujarat Congress leader Shailesh Manubhai Parmar to do away with the ‘NOTA’ option in Rajya Sabha elections. He filed the petition in regard to the Rajya Sabha election in 2017, in which Congress leader Ahmed Patel was contesting.
The trigger for the petition was the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to use NOTA for Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat in 2017. The ECI had issued two circulars on January 24, 2014 and November 12, 2015, giving the Rajya Sabha members the option to press the NOTA button in the Upper House polls.
The Election Commission has made an arrangement in the voting system through which it can record that there is the percent of people who have not considered voting to anyone.
In the December 2013 assembly elections, the Election Commission of India had directed to provide the option of None of the above, or NOTA buttons in the electronic voting machine.
That is, now the people have an option in the Lok sabha and state elections which can be exercised if they do not like any of the candidates.
The NOTA button in the EVM machine has a pink colour so that it could be recognised easily.
NOTA gives an option to dismiss candidates. It is not that their votes are not counted in the time of counting votes. They are very much counted and it is also assessed how many people voted for the NOTA.
During the time when there was no NOTA option available to people in India, if anybody in the election thought that according to him no candidate is good enough to vote then he would not go to vote.
In such situations, people were deprived of voting rights. This is the reason why the option of the NOTA was discussed so that the process of fairness in the election process and politics could be ensured. Let us note that in many countries including India, Greece, Ukraine, Spain, Colombia and Russia, the option of NOTA is applicable.