- The Supreme Court criticized the Election Commission of India for introducing NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections. The poll body should act within the law, it said.
A three-judge Bench:
- A Bench, led by CJI held that the option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not elections held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
- The option of NOTA may serve best in direct elections but in the election to the Council of States, it would not only undermine the purity of democracy but also serve the Satan of defection and corruption.
Observation of the Court:
- The court observed that while NOTA option looks attractive in Rajya Sabha polls, it actually harms an electoral process where open ballot is permissible and party discipline reigns.
- More so, where the elector’s vote has value and the value of the vote is transferable.
- NOTA will destroy the concept of value of a vote and representation and encourage defection that shall open the doors for corruption which is a malignant disorder.
- The Bench had reserved for judgement the petition filed in 2017 by Gujarat Congress whip Shailesh Manubhai Parmar to do away with the option in Rajya Sabha elections.
- Chief Justice Misra had earlier indicated that the court may indeed rule against the circulars issued by the Election Commission of India in August 2017 and November 2015.
- The petitioner had argued that the Election Commission cannot sanction the use of NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections by way of mere circulars, which have the effect of overriding the provisions of Article 80(4) — proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, the provisions of Representation of People Act 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules 1961.