Congress stalls Rajya Sabha over NOTA, EC says in effect since 2014

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New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The Congress on Tuesday stalled Rajya Sabha proceedings and forced two adjournments during Question Hour over the use of NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections.

The Congress questioned the legality of ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in the ballots ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections.

However, an Election Commission official said the NOTA option has been in effect since 2014 and was incorporated after a Supreme Court judgement.

As soon as the Upper House met for Question Hour after an earlier adjournment, Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the issue of NOTA under a Point of Order.

“The decision has been made without amending the Constitution or the law that the NOTA option will be available to MLAs at EC direction. How can this be done? …this vitiates the elections as the Constitution has not been amended, the Representation of People Act, 1950, has not been amended, while NOTA has been introduced,” Sharma said.

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“This cannot be done,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that through NOTA a “provision for rigging has been introduced”, as Chairman Hamid Ansari urged members to not level such allegations in the house.

“There is no NOTA for presidential election, vice presidential election or the council of states. These are the only three elections where there is proportional representation and single transferable vote,” he said.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Leader of the House, said: “… there was a Supreme Court judgement which provided for NOTA option. The judgement came several years before this government came to power.”

“The Election Commission, pursuant to that judgement, issued some notification under Article 324 that covers all elections in this country. Therefore, a circular was issued not now but earlier on,” he added.

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The Minister said that in case somebody is aggrieved by the circular he has options available, adding that the EC order can be challenged in court and not in the Rajya Sabha.

However, unrelenting Congress members kept raising the issue as other opposition members, including Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agrawal, joined them. Ansari then adjourned the house for 10 minutes.

After the house reconvened, the opposition members were again on their feet and refused to budge despite repeated requests by the Chair to let Question Hour proceed. The Chair then adjourned the house till 2 p.m.



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