Right to Reject may disrupt Parl; SC seeks Centre, EC reply


The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre and the Election Commission on a PIL seeking direction to give voters the right to reject a candidate in an election, if maximum votes are polled in favour of NOTA.

The plea argued that the contesting candidates should be considered as rejected and not be allowed to fight fresh elections.

“Right to reject and elect new candidate will give power to the people to express their discontent,” said the plea.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde posed a query, if an influential political party manages to get many candidates rejected, then in that backdrop of so many vaccancies, it will be difficult for the Parliament to function.

Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, representing the petitioner, submitted his client had approached the statutory authorities, but he has not received any response.

The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said, “it is a constitutional problem”.

“If your argument is accepted, and all candidates are rejected and that constituency goes unrepresented completely”, the bench reiterated its query, “how will a valid Parliament be constituted?”

Guruswamy replied that the right to reject will lead to political parties to get acceptable candidates.

The bench said these suggestions are difficult to be accepted, though it completely understands the essence of the contention in the petition.

After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court issued notice on the plea.

The plea argued that the right to reject will check corruption, criminalization, casteism communalism, regionalism etc., which are menace to the democracy, and political parties would be forced to give tickets to honest candidates.

The plea has been filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who said: “The right to reject and elect new candidate will empower the people and accelerate their participation since they could abstain and register their discontent with low quality candidates without fear of reprisal.

“It would foster purity of election process by eventually compelling the parties to field better candidates thus control the criminalization.”

Upadhyay urged the top court to direct the Election Commission to use its plenary power conferred under Article 324 to nullify the election result and hold fresh election, if maximum votes have been polled in favour of NOTA in particular constituency.

The plea also sought top court’s direction to the Centre to take apposite steps to invalidate the election result and hold fresh election, if maximum votes have been polled in favour of NOTA in a particular constituency.