Supreme Court Seeks ECI's Response on PIL for Fresh Election If NOTA Wins Majority

SC seeks ECI's reply on PIL for fresh elections if NOTA prevails. Filed by Shiv Khera, PIL aims to reform electoral process.

In a notable development during the current general elections, the Supreme Court has requested a response from the election commission regarding a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by author and activist Shiv Khera. The PIL seeks the formulation of rules to annul an election and conduct a fresh one if the "None of the Above" (NOTA) option receives the majority of votes over other candidates.

The Supreme Court's 2013 verdict mandated the provision of the NOTA option, asserting its significance in promoting democracy by providing voters with a means to express dissatisfaction with all candidates. The bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra acknowledged Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan's submissions on behalf of Khera and issued notice to the Election Commission.

Initially hesitant, the bench considered the PIL's relevance to the electoral process. "We will issue a notice. This is about the electoral process also. Let us see what the Election Commission has to say...," remarked the Chief Justice.

The PIL highlights an incident in Surat, Gujarat, where a BJP candidate was declared the winner before polling due to rejected nomination papers and withdrawals. It requests the court to direct the Election Commission to formulate rules stating that if NOTA secures a majority, the election in that constituency should be invalidated, necessitating a fresh election.

Additionally, the PIL seeks rules barring candidates who receive fewer votes than NOTA from contesting any elections for five years. It also calls for ensuring proper reporting and publicity of NOTA as a "fictional candidate."

Citing the Supreme Court's previous judgment and the Law Commission's report, the PIL argues that since 2013, NOTA implementation has failed to achieve its intended purpose. It claims that NOTA has neither increased voter participation nor compelled political parties to field better candidates.