The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on a petition challenging an Election Commission notification allowing the “None of The Above” option in ballot papers for the elections to Rajya Sabha, PTI reported.

Shailesh Parmar, the Congress’ chief whip in the Gujarat Assembly during the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls, had moved the top court challenging the Election Commission’s notification allowing the NOTA option in ballot papers.

The bench questioned the poll panel on the plea, saying a legislator has to vote according to the whip issued by their party in such polls. “Why should a constitutional court be party to an unconstitutional act,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said. “If a person does not vote, he could be expelled by the party. But by introducing NOTA, you [the Election Commission] are legitimising the act of not voting.”

MLAs in Gujarat were granted the NOTA provision during the Rajya Sabha elections in August 2017. The poll panel had then said that the provision was granted as per a previous Supreme Court order.

On Monday, the Supreme Court asked why the Election Commission was venturing into “complicated area”. The bench said an open ballot voting system in the polls for the Upper House was meant to restrain cross-voting. “Whether to vote and not to vote falls under the domain of the member of the House and the Election Commission cannot issue notification giving NOTA option,” it said.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, opposed the poll panel’s notification and reiterated that a member of the Upper House is bound by the decisions of their respective party. He said a party enters into a “contract” with other party and asks its legislators to vote accordingly.

The Election Commission argued in the court that the plea was an abuse of the legal process.