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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday referred a public interest litigation (PIL) that seeks the effective implementation of election laws to ensure citizens the right to a negative vote, or an option to choose none of the candidates, to a larger bench.

In 2004, non-profit group People’s Union of Civil Liberties filed a petition, asking the court to direct the Union government and the Election Commission to amend Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, which says a voter who wants to cast a negative vote must inform the returning officer who would register his name and address in an election book, as it would not amount to a secret ballot.

The petitioner submitted that this condition violates Article 19(2) of the Constitution that guarantees Indian citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression.

A division bench comprising justices B.N. Agarwal and G.S. Singhvi on Monday requested Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan to place the matter before a larger bench for consideration as it involved a constitutional issue.

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