No NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections rules SC while striking down EC notification
New Delhi, Aug 21: The Supreme Court has said that None of the Above Option will not be allowed in Rajya Sabha elections. The court delivered the verdict while overruling the decision of the Election Commission allowing NOTA in the ballot papers for the Rajya Sabha polls.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India was hearing a petition filed by Manubhai Parmar, who was the Congress' chief whip in the Gujarat assembly during the last Rajya Sabha polls, in which the party had fielded sitting MP Ahmed Patel. Parmar had challenged the poll panel's notification allowing NOTA option in ballot papers.
"Why should a Constitutional court be party to an unconstitutional act ... If a person does not vote, he could be expelled by the party. But by introducing NOTA, you (EC) are legitimising the act of not voting," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had said.
It said the NOTA option was meant for individual voters in direct elections and not for polls for Rajya Sabha and MLC seats.
The idea behind having an open ballot voting system in polls for the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils was to restrain cross-voting due to corrupt practices, it said.
The Bench also said that a lawmaker has to vote according to the directions of his or her party in such polls where preferences have to be disclosed on party lines and the voter cannot say that he would give first preference to a candidate and then give NOTA.
"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.
"How can the Election Commission can enter into this arena," the bench asked, while taking note of the submissions of Attorney General KK Venugopal, who opposed the poll panel's notification, that NOTA should not be made applicable in Rajya Sabha and MLC elections.
Venugopal said a party enters into some kind of "contract" with other party which was beneficial to them and asked the MLAs to vote according to its decisions.
"Fundamental right of freedom of speech and expressions can be curtailed on the ground of morality," he said, adding that MLAs are bound by the decisions of their respective parties.
The poll panel opposed the plea against NOTA provision and said that it was an "abuse" of the legal process.
The Bench asked the poll panel as to why it was venturing into the "complicated" area.