The Supreme Court of India on 27 September 2013 held that citizens have the right to reject all candidates contesting an election.
The Supreme Court also directed the Election Commission of India to provide none of the above options at the end of the list of candidates contesting an election in a constituency.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam while pronouncing the judgment viewed that negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy of elections .It also ensure wide participation as people who are not satisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their opinion rejecting contestants.
While pronouncing the judgment he also talked about democracy. Democracy is all about choices. So, voters will be empowered by this right of negative voting. Negative voting will send a clear signal to political parties and candidates as to what the voters think about them.
The bench noted that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries. Even in India parliamentarians are given an option to press the button for abstaining while voting takes place in the Parliament.
The bench also observed that right to reject candidates in elections is part of fundamental right given by the Constitution in article 19 (freedom of speech and expression).
The court passed this order on a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed by an NGO, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which had submitted that voters be given the right to negative voting.
Existing Provisions in Representation of People Act
Under the existing provisions of Section 49(O) of the Representation of People Act, a voter who after coming to a polling booth does not want to cast his vote, has to inform the presiding officer of his intention of not voting, who in turn would make an entry in the relevant rule book after taking the signature of the said elector. It violates the concept of f secret ballot.
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