The Supreme Court today will hear the plea filed by Gurajat unit of the Congress challenging the introduction of ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option allowed by Assembly secretary for the Rajya Sabha polls which is all set to take place on August 8. The Congress on August 1 challenged the Election Commission (EC) decision and had also sought say of the notification. 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 Indian Express, the petition was filed by 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. The circular stated that the NOTA option would be made applicable in the elections to the Upper House.
Kapil Sibal, the senior counsel, has urged for an urgent hearing before a three-judge bench of Justices including Dipak Misra, Amitav Roy and A M Khanwilkar. He stated that there was no statutory provision for NOTA in the ballot paper for the polls and that use of the option would violate the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. The apex court had agreed to take it up on today.
“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.
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The plea also alleged that the EC has become a tool in the hands of the ruling party to facilitate violation of the provisions of the Constitution, the Act and the Rules. The NOTA option was first enforced in January 2014 after a 2013 Supreme Court order made it mandatory to have the option in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Gujarat is all set to witness a high-octane Rajya Sabha polls this time with both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eying to bag maximum seats. BJP has fielded its national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani and former Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput. Even Congress is affirmative to win the elections and will try its luck with senior leader Ahmed Patel.