NEW DELHI: In a jolt to Gujarat Congress, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Election Commission notification of including NOTA (none of the above) option during the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar refused to stay the notification issued by the poll panel but issued notice to it for respond to Congress petition in two weeks.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of State Unit Congress Chief Shailesh Manubhai Parmar and said, “if the NOTA option is allowed, MLA’s votes would be bought by other parties to defeat its candidate. It would also become a tool for corruption.”
This prompted bench to ask Congress, “Are you not sure of your members.”
Sibal explained it is not the question of who wins or who losses, it is about the system which will become corrupt by following illegal practices.
Four candidates are in the fray for three Rajya Sabha seats to which the election will take place on August 8.
Apart from BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani, the ruling party has decided to field Balwantsinh Rajput against the lone Congress candidate, Ahmed Patel.
The bench also questioned Congress as to why it had not challenged the notification earlier and waited till the eve of the elections when the poll panel had issued the notification in January 2014.
The bench then slated the hearing for September 18 and said the use of the NOTA option is a constitutional issue which needs to be debated.
Congress in its plea had challenged the decision of the Election Commission to introduce the option of NOTA in the Rajya Sabha elections and said that it is against the provisions of article 80(4) of the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951 and the conduct of election rules, 1961.
“Without a corresponding amendment in the Act and the Rules any purported administrative action of the Election Commission of India to introduce NOTA is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and in fact tainted with malafide,” the petition states.
As per poll panel, the directions to use NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections were enforced in January 2014 after the Supreme Court in 2013 made it mandatory to have NOTA option in EVMs.
In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box.