The Supreme Court of India has refused to stay plea on the NOTA option for the upcoming Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls, reported ANI on Thursday morning. This announcement means that the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election will be held with the NOTA option. The agency reported that the Supreme Court on Thursday has refused to stay Election Commission’s notification allowing NOTA in upcoming Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat. The apex court asked the Gujarat Congress, “why are you so late in raising the question as EC issued notification in Jan 2014?” The court however agreed to examine constitutional validity of EC’s notification to give an option of NOTA in elections.
The Congress had challenged the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to use the NOTA option in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election which is scheduled to take place on August 8. The Opposition party had moved the EC and asked that the provision of NOTA should not be made in the ballot papers for the August 8 elections reasoning it to provide the system of proportional representation ‘nugatory and pointless’ or render it inconsequential.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the petition was filed by the chief legislator of the party in the Gujarat Assembly Shailesh Manubhai Parmar who had requested the court to quash the August 1 circular issued by the secretary. “Without a corresponding amendment in the Act and the Rules, any purported administrative action of the Election Commission of India to introduce NOTA is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and in fact tainted with malafide,” read the plea.
In this plea, Congress had also alleged that EC has become a tool in the hands of the ruling party, i.e. BJP to facilitate the violation of the provisions of the Constitution, the Act and the Rules. The NOTA was introduced in India in January 2014 after a 2013 Supreme Court order made it mandatory to have the option in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).