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BJP and Congress Oppose Use of NOTA Option in Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls

Kapil Sibal told the Supreme Court that there is no statutory provision with regard to NOTA in the Constitution.

Updated:August 2, 2017, 6:05 PM IST
BJP and Congress Oppose Use of NOTA Option in Gujarat Rajya Sabha Polls
Election Commission says the direction to use NOTA was not new and was introduced in 2014. ( Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: The Congress and the BJP may be locked in a heated battle for the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, but the two parties have come together to oppose the use of None of the Above (NOTA) option in the upcoming polls.

While the Congress has moved the Supreme Court against the Election Commission’s decision to use NOTA, the BJP has written a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner arguing the Supreme Court’s directions on NOTA did not extend to the Rajya Sabha polls.

The Election Commission had issued a notification recently and had said that 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.

The apex court has agreed to hear the Congress plea challenging the poll panel’s move and a hearing is likely to be held on Thursday. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear the plea after senior advocate Kapil Sibal sought an urgent hearing. Sibal told the court that there is no statutory provision with regard to NOTA in the Constitution.

On Tuesday, the Congress had approached the Election Commission against the use of NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, claiming it violated the Constitution and electoral laws. The poll panel, however, maintained that it was not a new direction and was introduced in 2014.

BJP, in its letter, quoted the 2013 Supreme Court judgment, and said it is clear that Supreme Court has differentiated among the election for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and “correctly directed for NOTA option for election for Lok Sabha and State Legislative by declaring Rule 41(2) and 3 and Rule 49-0 of the Representation of People Act to be ultravires of the Constitution.”

“It is also clear that there is no specific direction by Hon’ble Supreme Court for use of NOTA option for election for Rajya Sabha and therefore Election Commission has acted beyond the direction passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court by issuing the letter dated 24.1.2014 and further direction of using NOTA option in the upcoming election for Rajya Sabha in the State of Gujarat,” the letter reads.

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.

In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MLAs have to show their ballot paper to an authorised party agent before putting it in ballot box. If a voter (MLA) defies the party directive and votes for someone else or uses NOTA option, he cannot be disqualified as a legislator.

But the party is free to take disciplinary action, including expulsion. The defiant voter can continue to be an MLA and his vote can also not be invalidated for defying party directions.

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