Should all running candidates be barred and re-polling held if NOTA gets maximum votes? SC seeks EC response

A plea filed in the Supreme Court seeks a direction that an election must be declared ‘null and void’ if maximum votes from the constituency are polled for NOTA.

Written By Akriti Anand
First Published26 Apr 2024
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra issued a notice to the Election Commission on the NOTA issue.
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra issued a notice to the Election Commission on the NOTA issue.(HT_PRINT)

The Supreme Court sought a response from the Elections Commission of India (ECI) on a petition seeking re-polling in areas where the maximum number of people in a constituency choose the 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option.

The petitioner has sought directions to the Election Commission to frame appropriate rules in case NOTA gets the maximum votes in a constituency.

What prompted the case?

During the hearing, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan mentioned that in the Surat Lok Sabha constituency, there was only one candidate, BJP's Mukesh Dala, who was elected unopposed

Dala was elected after the nomination of the Congress candidate was rejected and other candidates withdrew their nominations.

Even if there is only one candidate, there should be an election as the voter should have the option to vote for NOTA. "In Surat where nobody else has appeared, they are forced to go with whoever the candidate is," Sankaranarayanan submitted.

What does the plea suggest?

The plea sought a direction that an election must be declared as "null and void" if maximum votes from the constituency are polled for "None of The Above" (NOTA) and a fresh election should be held for the constituency, Live Law reported.

According to the report, the plea further sought a direction that the same candidates, who lost to NOTA, should be barred from contesting the bye-election which would be held after the cancellation of the first election where NOTA got the majority votes.

It added that there should be proper publicity for NOTA as a "fictional candidate."

What SC said?

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra issued a notice to the Election Commission seeking its response on the matter.

"We will issue notice. This is about the electoral process also. Let us see what the Election Commission has to say on this," the CJI was quoted by Bar and Bench as saying.

What is NOTA? What happens if NOTA gets maximum votes?

NOTA, short for None of The Above, was introduced in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) following a direction issued by the Supreme Court in 2013 in a plea filed by the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

NOTA provides an option to the voters to reject all candidates as unsatisfactory. However, as per the existing law, there is no legal consequence if NOTA gets the majority of the votes.

In such a situation, the next candidate will be declared as the winner, Live Law reported.

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