Delhi, where assembly elections are due in November, could be one of the first states in the country where voters may have the option of rejecting all the candidates in their constituency if they do not like any of them.
In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday allowed casting of "negative votes" by citizens. The apex court also noted that this provision can be provided in existing electronic voting machines (EVMs) without any "additional cost" or change in the technology.
The judgement has been welcomed by Delhi's unit of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and Aam Aadami Party (AAP) which said that it was the first step towards electoral reforms.
"We welcome the Supreme Court's decision. It is a historic judgement. This is the first step, next our step would be to bring Right to Reject which would ensure cancellation of election, if no candidate gets majority votes and 'none above the above' (NOTA) get most of the votes," said AAP National convener Arvind Kejriwal.
This would deter political parties from again fielding the rejected candidates, said Kejriwal.
A similar view was aired by senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Delhi Legislative Assembly VK Malhotra. "We welcome the decision very much. It is a step towards electoral reforms," said Malhotra.
"The judgment will increase the polling per centage in the upcoming election. There are many people who do not turn up at polling booths to cast their votes. At least, now they could come and say that they do not like anyone," said Malhotra.
However, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) president JP Aggarwal said he would for the central leadership's reponse.
"The party's line is yet to come. So far no statement has come from All India Congress Committee (AICC). This decision does not concern Delhi alone, but is a national issue," said Agarwal.
The Supreme Court on Friday said that if a person is not allowed to cast negative votes, it would "defeat" the rights of the citizens as ensured by the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, which held that voters have a right to reject all candidates contesting polls in a constituency by pressing a button for negative vote, observed that essence of the electoral system should be to ensure a voter's freedom to exercise free choice.