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SC seeks EC's reply on PIL for fresh poll if NOTA gets majority in constituency

SC seeks EC's reply on PIL for fresh poll if NOTA gets majority in constituency
In a significant development amid the ongoing general elections, the Supreme Court on Friday asked for a response from the poll panel on a PIL seeking framing of rules to nullify an election and order fresh one if NOTA (none of the above) option gets majority over other candidates. The top court issued notice to the Election Commission on the PIL filed by author, activist and motivational speaker Shiv Khera.

The NOTA option is provided to the voters in the elections in pursuance of the 2013 apex court verdict.

The top court, in its 2013 judgement, had held that "a provision of negative voting would be in the interest of promoting democracy as it would send clear signals to political parties and their candidates as to what the electorate thinks about them" and directed the Election Commission to provide the option of NOTA in all EVMs.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Khera, and issued the notice.

Initially, the bench was reluctant to consider the PIL, saying it was for the "executive to decide'.

"We will issue a notice. This is about the electoral process also. Let us see what the Election Commission has to say...," the CJI said.

The senior advocate said that present plea was important keeping in mind the development at Surat in Gujarat where a BJP nominee was declared winner before polling as some nomination papers were rejected and few withdrew from the race.

"It is most respectfully prayed that this Court may be pleased to issue a writ... directing the Election Commission to frame rules to the effect that if NOTA gets a majority, the election held in the particular constituency shall be declared null and void and a fresh election shall be conducted to the constituency," it said.

The PIL also sought a direction to the poll panel to frame rules stating that the candidates who poll fewer votes than NOTA shall stand debarred from contesting all elections for a period of five years.

It also sought a direction to ensure "proper and efficient reporting/publicity of NOTA as a 'fictional candidate'".

The plea referred to the apex court judgement and the report of the Law Commission on the issue in its support.

Buttressing the plea for re-election if NOTA wins and barring the candidates from poll process if they poll less than NOTA, the PIL said, "since 2013, the implementation of NOTA has not fulfilled the very purpose that it was supposed to".

On the contrary, it has not led to increased voter participation, the PIL said, adding it has also not compelled political parties to field good candidates.

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