After both the main political parties approached the election commission seeking removal of the None Of The Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, the poll panel on Wednesday made it clear that it had issued directions in January 2014 that the provision of NOTA will also be applicable in the elections to Rajya Sabha.
Officials have also referred to the Supreme Court judgment of September 2013 which directed that the option of `None of the Above’ (NOTA) shall be provided on the ballot papers or EVMs. “In pursuance of this direction, the Commission issued instructions on 11th October 2013 for providing NOTA option on the ballot after the name of the last candidate,” the poll panel said.
Later, in January 2014, the Commission issued directions that the provision of NOTA shall also be applicable to the elections to Rajya Sabha and issued instructions to this effect vide circular letter dated 24th January 2014. Immediately, thereafter biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha were held in 16 States. The poll was taken on 7th February 2014 where elections were contested. Instructions regarding NOTA option were applicable in these elections onwards, added the EC.
Moreover, on February 27, 2014, while extending the NOTA option to legislative council elections, further instructions were issued regarding the manner of marking vote with NOTA option on the ballot paper.
Later, on 12th November 2015, more detailed instructions were issued regarding the manner of voting including opting of NOTA option with illustrative examples.
On Tuesday, the Congress had approached the EC against the use of NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, claiming it was violative of the Constitution and electoral laws.
Similarly, BJP on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to EC saying, “use of NOTA in the upcoming poll has become an issue of debate among the political parties and therefore, a proper consensus should be made before the use of NOTA in the election in Rajya Sabha.”