Not to vote also a fundamental right, says former CEC
India’s former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi on Friday said the citizens’ right not to vote (NOTA) is also a fundamental rightUpdated: May 12, 2019 07:06 IST
India’s former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi on Friday said the citizens’ right not to vote (NOTA) is also a fundamental right. At a discussion on “Towards an assertive policy on India’s external Democracy Support”, in Mumbai on Friday, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said, “Vote is a political power available to people that guarantees them services from the government. ... The right to not to vote is a fundamental right as it is a part of freedom of expression.” Quraishi was referring to the NOTA (none of the above) option given to the citizens .
Quraishi said, “My understanding is that perhaps we have been supporting the democratic world, including Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, despite being a poor country. The best promotion of democracy is to set an example ourselves. We can’t promote it elsewhere and be undemocratic ourselves. We cannot have double standards akin to the hypocrisy of the USA.”
Quraishi was speaking at a discussion organised by the Observer Research Foundation on Friday. Other speakers present for the discussion were Neelam Deo — Director of Gateway house, Dhruva Jaishankar — Fellow from Brookings India, Shakti Sinha — Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Shailesh Gandhi — former central information commissioner. This was a panel discussion chaired by Niranjan Sahoo, a senior fellow at ORF.
Deo, who was also the former Indian ambassador to Denmark and Ivory Coast, said, “Democracy is not doing well these days. As a result, there is also a lot of criticism. But the fact is that democracy means more than just elections. It also includes freedom of the press. We are criticised for not having a free press.”
Similarly, Jaishankar said, “Our press does have problems, but we must also not underestimate how free the Indian Press really is.” According to Gandhi, democracy goes hand-in-hand with transparency.
First Published: May 11, 2019 01:06 IST