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Congress, BJP on same page over removing NOTA from Rajya Sabha polls

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear Gujarat Congress’s petition challenging Election Commission’s (EC) decision to use NOTA.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2017 23:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Congress,BJP,NOTA
To defend its decision to provide NOTA, the poll panel released details of RS elections since 2013 to drive home the point that the provision had been used for the past four years.(File)

On a day when the Congress moved the Supreme Court over the use of None of the Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too joined the issue in opposing the provision.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear Gujarat Congress’s petition challenging Election Commission’s (EC) decision to use NOTA. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the petition and asked a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra to hear the matter urgency.

The court accepted the submission and listed it for Thursday. Sibal told the court there was no statutory provision with regard to Nota in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the BJP too made a similar demand and moved the Supreme Court.

A delegation of the ruling party submitted a memorandum the EC, suggesting it to create a consensus among political parties before rushing with the decision.

“There is no secrecy for the voting in such election, therefore the purpose of Nota is not much of use in such election,” it told the EC.

The delegation led by Union ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mansukh Mandaviyia and BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav also argued there was no specific direction of the Supreme Court for use of Nota option for election for Rajya Sabha and, therefore, the commission has acted beyond the direction passed by the apex court.

It insisted that the SC order relates to election for the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies.

In a petition to the Election Commission, the Congress said use of NOTA in RS elections was contrary to the mandate of the Constitution, the Representation of People’s Act, the conduct of election rules and the judgment of the Supreme Court.

To defend its decision to provide NOTA, the poll panel released details of RS elections since 2013 to drive home the point that the provision had been used for the past four years.

“Immediately thereafter, biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha were held in 16 states. Instructions regarding Nota option were applicable from then onwards. Biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha covering all states and 25 by-elections to the upper house have been held since then,” the commission said.

The EC also sought a factual report from the finance secretary by Friday over Congress’ complaint of BJP using Central forces, during the I-T raid in Bengaluru, to intimidate their MLAs before the Gujarat polls.

First Published: Aug 02, 2017 23:20 IST