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SC permits voters the right to reject candidates in Polls

New Delhi, Sep 27 (): The Supreme Court on Friday in a stunning judgement provided the citizens of India the right to reject candidates in elections.

The apex court after hearing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, an NGO gave the order that the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs should have a button that will allow the voters to choose ‘none of the above option’.

The bench comprised by Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that voters should be permitted the right to reject the candidates standing in an election in their constituency. The court further observed that negative voting would not only promote purity and vibrancy in elections, but would also lead to systemic change in polls due to which political parties will be forced to project clean candidates.

“If right to vote is legal, right to reject candidate is fundamental right of speech and expression under Constitution,” said the court.

The SC also ordered the judgement to be implemented immediately. It also directed the Election Commission to convey the message among voters. Referring the matter to a larger bench, the top court framed two questions for the court to examine asking that,”whether the right of voter to exercise his/her choice for the candidate is an essential affiliate of the voter’s freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. “

The judgement which is significant will have little impact on the conclusion of an election as negative votes will not be counted even though recorded on EVMs. People favouring negative voting have demanded to conduct re-election in a constituency where over half the percent of voters reject all candidates. However, it cannot be permitted at present.

The court also observed that the practice of negative voting is common in 13 countries which will also be followed in India. This comes after a petition was filed by an PUCL which demanded that voters be permitted the right to negative voting.