The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on the issue of providing voters an option to cast a negative vote during elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
A bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi reserved the verdict after two days of arguments during which then Commission supported the plea of the petitioner PUCL that a voter must be given the option to cast a negative vote.
The bench's decision came after Election Commission's counsel Meenakshi Arora argued that if such an option of casting a negative vote was not extended to voters it might be violative of the Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) (Freed of speech and expression).
Concluding her arguments before the bench, Meenakshi suggested that the court can give appropriate directions to the Centre for making necessary amendments to the Representation of Peoples Act for ensuring a separate slot in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in which a candidate can cast a negative vote.
Under the existing provisions of Sections 49(O)of the Representation of Peoples Act, a voter who after coming to a polling booth does not want to cast his vote has to inform the presiding officer of his intention not to vote, who in turn would make an entry in the relevant rule book after taking the signature of the said voter.
According to the PUCL Section 49(O) was violative of the Constitutional provisions guaranteed under Article 19 (1( (a) (Freedom of Speech and Expression) and Article 21 (Right to Liberty) and violated the secret ballot concept.
Meenaskshi backed the petitioner's plea that if a voter is compelled under the statutory provision to disclose his intention not to vote then he/she would be prone to threats. This is possible in villages, she said.