"The Union Government today opposed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking right to reject all candidates in the fray in a constituency and if majority of votes are for rejection of all candidates, then the election in that particular constituency has to be cancelled. The Election Commission is of the view that in order to check the entry of criminals in the election arena, the electorate must be given a right to reject all candidates in fray, in a constituency to purify the electoral process in the country.
Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami had written to the government on December 15 last year, suggesting measures for electoral reform and recommended that there should be a button in the Electronic Voting Machine(EVM) having an option of 'none of the above'.
The Centre today, however, contended before a bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi that the petition filed by People's Union For Civil Liberties(PUCL) is not maintainable under Article 32 of the Constitution, as no violation of any Fundamental Right is involved.
According to the Centre, Right of negative voting cannot be given to the electorate as it will create lot of problems and may frustrate the electoral process.
In a democracy, the voter has the right to vote for the candidate of his or her choice but he/she cannot be given right of negative voting because it will strike at the root of the democratic process.
According to the Election Commission, right of rejection is a must to eradicate the vices of criminalisation of politics, money power and to keep the tainted persons out of the electoral fray.
As per negative voting, in case number of negative votes against a candidate is more than the number of votes he has got, he will be presumed to have been defeated.
This right is more effective than the right to abstain from voting which is already available to the voter in India.
The apex court will hear tomorrow the arguments on the maintainability of the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, since this Article can be invoked only when a Fundamental Right of a citizen is violated. It has been a long standing demand of those who want to purify the electoral process in the country of vices like criminalisation of politics, use of money and muscle power to get votes, that the electorate must be given right to reject a candidate with criminal and dubious track record.
The petitioner has also pleaded that secrecy of ballot paper is a must to ensure free and fair election.
-- (UNI) --