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NOTA Continues in Rajya Sabha

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay an Election Commission circular issued in January 2014 that introduced NOTA in the Rajya Sabha elections.

ISSUE:
The Gujarat Congress made a plea to freeze the NOTA option for elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats in the State on August 8. According to senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is appearing for Congress argued:
• That NOTA would be a “recipe for corruption”.
• MLAs may defy the party whip and invalidate their votes by opting for NOTA.
• The system of NOTA is of no importance and does not serve the purpose, thus cannot be made applicable in Rajya Sabha elections.
• The Election Commission, despite being the constitutional watchdog for ensuring free and fair elections, has become a tool in the hands of ruling dispensation to violate provisions of the constitution.

The conduct of Election rules mandates that a candidate s name should come first in the list on ballot paper. But here NOTA will be listed as first preference.

The government represented by Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal s made submission that the Union of India does not in any way interfere with the decisions of the Election Commission and, hence, had no role in this case.

NOTA vis- a-vis Rajya Sabha
NOTA allows the voter:
• To register a “protest” vote if none of the candidates is acceptable to him/her for whatever reason. If NOTA is polled, the candidate with the highest number of votes polled is declared elected irrespective of the NOTA total.
• In the case of the Rajya Sabha elections, the vote allows for the preferential ordering of candidates. If an MLA chooses NOTA, the vote is rendered ineffective.
The court will hear all parties related to the case including Election Commission of India, as this judicial pronouncement will have impact on the constitution. (all elections which has been conducted since Jan 2014 till today).

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