In a landmark judgement on Friday, the Supreme Court for the first time allowed voters to cast negative vote by pressing a button saying none of the candidates is worthy of his vote. The SC asked the Election Commission to provide None Of The Above (NOTA) button on EVMs and ballot papers. The apex court said the right to vote and the right to say NOTA are both part of basic right of voters. “When a large number of voters will press NOTA button, it will force political parties to choose better candidates. Negative voting would lead to systemic change in polls,” the apex bench observed. The bench also observed that implementation of NOTA option was akin to ‘abstain option’ given to MPs and MLAs during voting in respective houses. The SC directed the EC to start implementing NOTA button on EVMs forthwith in a phased manner and asked the Centre to render all assistance.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy of elections and ensure wide participation as people who are not satisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their opinion rejecting contestants.
The bench noted that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries and even in India, parliamentarians are given an option to press the button for abstaining while voting takes place in the House.
The court said right to reject candidates in elections is part of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression given by the Constitution to Indian citizens.