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Supreme Court refuses to stay NOTA option for Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls

The NOTA – none of the above – option allows voters to reject all candidates in the fray.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2017 20:52 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,NOTA,Rajya Sabha polls
Congress had opposed the use of NOTA option in Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls.(HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Election Commission decision allowing the NOTA provision in the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

A bench of justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar, however, agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the August 1 notification of the poll panel allowing the NOTA option.

“Issue notice. We will examine it. We are not going to stay the proceedings,” the bench said when senior advocates Kapil Sibal, AM Singhvi and Harin Raval, representing

Gujarat Congress chief whip Shailesh Manubhai Parmar, sought an interim stay on the notification.

The bench questioned the delay by the opposition party in filing its petition, pointing out that the poll panel had issued a notification on the matter in January 2014 and another circular in 2015.

“When it suited you, you did not come. You come here on the eve of elections,” the bench said.

Sibal told the court that including NOTA will encourage corruption. “It’s a recipe for corruption.”

The NOTA – none of the above – option allows voters to reject all candidates in fray.

Six Gujarat MLAs switched over from the Congress to the BJP last week, seen as a major blow to the prospects of the opposition party candidate Ahmed Patel.The Congress is apprehensive of cross voting and some MLAs exercising the NOTA option.

Last week, the party flew most of its Gujarat MLAs to Bengaluru to protect them from what it says is the BJP’s conspiracy to lure Congress legislators.

The petition said use of the option would be violative of the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.

If a voter (MLA) defies the party directive and casts the ballot for someone else or uses the NOTA option, he cannot be disqualified as a legislator.

But the party is free to take disciplinary action including expulsion. The defiant voter can continue to be an MLA and his vote can also not be invalidated for defying the party direction, according to EC rules.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 11:59 IST