The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission of India on a petition that elections should be conducted again in constituencies where the maximum votes polled are for None of the Above, or the NOTA option, Live Law reported.
The plea was filed by lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay, seeking directions that the Election Commission use its plenary power under Article 324 to nullify the result and conduct fresh polls in such a scenario. He also sought directions to restrict candidates who are fielded in the proposed invalidated election from contesting again.
Advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for Upadhyay, told the court that he did not get any response from the statutory authorities in the case.
“If some political party with influence on people manages to get candidates rejected seats will remain unfilled in Parliament,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said. “It is a constitutional problem. If your argument is accepted, and all candidates are rejected and that constituency goes unrepresented completely. How will you constitute a valid Parliament?”
Guruswamy said political parties will field acceptable candidates if voters have a “right to reject”. “Underlying suggestion are very hard to be accepted, even though we understand importance of what you are saying,” Bobde responded. “We will issue notice.”
The petitioner said political parties choose candidates for elections in a “very undemocratic manner” without consulting voters, adding that because of this people in constituencies 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,” the plea said. “In such a situation, the contesting candidates should be considered as rejected and not be allowed in the fresh election. 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 of the contesting candidate, they will opt NOTA to reject such candidate and elect new candidate.”
It further said that the “right to reject” will force political parties to give tickets to honest candidates. It will also check the menaces of democracy – corruption, criminalisation, casteism, communalism, linguism, regionalism, the petitioner said.