SC directs Centre, EC to respond on plea to nullify election result if maximum votes are for NOTA
The petition said candidates ‘rejected’ by voters should not be fielded again in the fresh polls
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking to direct the poll panel to nullify an election result and conducting a fresh poll if the maximum votes are for NOTA in a particular constituency.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Election Commission of India while seeking their replies on the plea.
Senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy appeared for the petitioner.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay which also sought a direction to the Election Commission to restrict those candidates and political parties, whose election has been nullified, from taking part in the fresh polls.
"The right to reject and elect a new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent. If voters are dissatisfied with the background or performance of contesting candidate, they will opt for NOTA (none of the above) to reject such candidate and elect a new candidate," the petition said.
"The Court may declare that if 'none of the above' (NOTA) gets maximum votes, then election to that constituency shall be nullified and a fresh election shall be held within six months; and the contesting candidates rejected in the nullified elections, shall not be allowed to participate in the fresh election," the plea filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey said.
The petition contended that political parties choose contesting candidates in a very undemocratic manner without consulting electors, that is why many times people in the constituency are totally discontented with candidates presented before them.
"This problem can be solved by holding a fresh election if maximum votes are polled in favour of NOTA. In such a situation, the contesting candidates should be considered as rejected and not be allowed in the fresh election," the plea said.
"Right to reject and elect new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent. If voters are dissatisfied with the background of contesting candidate, they will opt NOTA to reject such candidate and elect a new candidate," the plea said.
The plea said the percentage of candidates with criminal antecedents and their chances of winning has actually increased steadily over the years.
"The injury caused to public is extremely large and continue till date, as the right to reject is an integral part of Article 19, but the Centre and ECI did nothing to declare the election result invalid and hold a fresh election if maximum votes are polled in favour of NOTA," it added.
The suit said that as the general consent given to the central agency by the Trinamool Congress government has been withdrawn, the FIRs lodged cannot be proceeded with
With a ban on big gatherings and rallies by the Election Commission of India in view of COVID-19, family members of candidates are meeting voters personally to ensure they vote for their contestants
Initially, election rallies and roadshows were banned until 15 January and were later extended till 22 January