SC presses for negative vote option in EVMs
By Express News Service | Published: 29th September 2013 08:55 AM |
In a path-breaking judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday held that voters have a right to reject all candidates contesting polls in a constituency by pressing a button for negative vote, saying this would compel political parties to field “sound” candidates who are known for their integrity.
The Election Commission will now have to provide an option for negative voting in the Electronic Voting Machines and ballot papers.
The verdict, however, appeared to raise questions over what happens if majority of electorate in a constituency vote negatively.
Election Commission sources said though the electoral law on the issue is silent, the new ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) option may virtually amount to an invalid vote and those getting the highest votes among the candidates will be declared the winner.
The apex court said there is a “dire need” of negative voting which will bring “systemic change” in the election process as “the political parties will be forced to accept the will of the people” and field clean candidates when a large number of people express their disapproval with the candidates being put up by them.
The Supreme Court said casting of the vote is a facet of the right of expression of an individual and the said right is provided under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
“Not allowing a person to cast vote negatively defeats the very freedom of expression and the right ensured in Article 21 i.e., the right to liberty,” it said.
While Congress and BJP reacted cautiously to the verdict, CPM said it has created an “abnormal situation” that needs to be corrected.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that negative voting, which is prevalent only in 13 countries across the world, would accelerate effective political participation of people and will “foster the purity of the electoral process” and “it serves a very fundamental and essential part of a vibrant democracy.
“For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives for proper governance of the country.
This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote.
“Thus in a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose none of the above button, which will indeed compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate. This situation palpably tells us the dire need of negative voting,” the bench said its 50-page verdict.