Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls: Supreme Court rejects Congress plea to stay EC notification allowing NOTA

Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Election Commission's notification, a plea by the Congress, to allow 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections.

"Why did you (Congress) not challenge it when Election Commission issued NOTA in 2014 and 2015?" CNN-News18 quoted the apex court as saying. The Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls will now be held with the NOTA option.

 Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls: Supreme Court rejects Congress plea to stay EC notification allowing NOTA

Representational image. Reuters

PTI further reported that the Supreme Court, however, agreed to examine the Constitutional validity of the Election Commission's notification for NOTA in elections.

"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 operation of the poll panel's notification. The apex court did not agree to the contention of Sibal that NOTA provision "will encourage corruption".

The court further said that the results for the upcoming polls will be declared as per schedule and sought the Election Commission's response on the plea filed by Parmar.

On Wednesday, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea moved by the Gujarat Congress challenging the decision to use NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in the state.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra had agreed to hear the plea after senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before it and sought urgent hearing. Sibal had told the apex court that there is no statutory provision with regard to NOTA in the Constitution.

As per government officials, the directions to use NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections were enforced in January 2014 after the Supreme Court in 2013 made it mandatory to have NOTA option in EVMs.

On Tuesday, Congress had approached the Election Commission against the use of NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, claiming it was violative of the Constitution and electoral laws, but the poll panel maintained that it was not a new direction and was introduced in 2014.

Four candidates are in the fray for three Rajya Sabha seats to which the election will take place on 8 August. Apart from BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani, the ruling party has decided to field Balwantsinh Rajput against the lone Congress candidate, Ahmed Patel.

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 votes for someone else or uses 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 party directions, the EC rules say.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 12:45:07 IST