Will There Be Repoll If NOTA Gets Maximum Votes? SC Issues Notice To ECI

New Delhi: In case maximum votes in a particular constituency are polled in favour of None Of The Above (NOTA) option, how will a winner be identified?

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to nullify the election result of such a constituency and hold fresh polls, the Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking its views on the matter.

The PIL, filed by writer and motivational speaker Shiv Khera, also sought framing of rules specifying that candidates who garner fewer votes than NOTA shall be barred from contesting in any election for a period of five years.

The petition further wants rules to be framed to ensure proper reporting and publicity of NOTA as a ‘fictional candidate.’

Senior advocate Gopal Shankaranarayan, who appeared for Khera, cited the case of Surat where BJP’s candidate was declared winner a fortnight before polling date in that constituency as the Congress candidate’s nomination was rejected while other candidates withdrew from the fray.

“We saw in Surat that since there was no other candidate, all had to go for only one candidate. Even if there is only one candidate, there should be an election as the voter should have the option to go for NOTA,” the petition pointed out.

“The option of NOTA in the Electronic Voting Machines is the result of ‘right to reject’ possessed by the voter in our electoral system… NOTA is seen as a right to reject belonging to the citizen in the present dispensation,” the petition stated.

The idea and purpose of NOTA is to put pressure on political parties to field better candidates, the petitioner said. “There continue to be instances when almost all candidates in a constituency have had pending criminal cases. What does a voter do? NOTA is a potent weapon in the hands of the voter.”

Pulling up the ECI, Khera also said in the petition: “The Election Commission of India has failed to regard NOTA as a valid candidate which in a democratic form of governance is essential since NOTA, is not merely a citizen not voting but is actually a valid selection.”

Issuing a notice to ECI, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, “This is about the electoral process also. Let us see what the Election Commission has to say on this.”

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