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Declare elections void if NOTA has most votes, says PIL in Supreme Court

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A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to declare elections null and void in any given constituency if the maximum votes polled are in favour of NOTA and hold new elections. The PIL demanded restricting the candidates in the invalidated election from taking part in the fresh election.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. He submitted that out of 539 MPs, 233 MPs (43%) have declared criminal cases against them. Out of the 542 winners analysed after the 2014 election, 185 (34%) had declared criminal cases against themselves, and out of 543 winners analysed after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 162 (30%) had declared criminal cases against themselves. 

Petitioner asserts that it is a serious matter of concern to both democracy and rule of law because 43% of MPs have criminal cases against them. In turn, it causes irreversible harm to a noble profession, the public interest. 

“A convicted and imprisoned legislator cannot faithfully discharge his duty, which requires full time involvement. This would amount to violation of the Constitutional Oath and can be control up to great extent by introducing right to reject,” says petitioner. 

According to the petitioner, the analysis shows that where charges against a candidate are serious, the probability of his winning the election is also high which is alarming. 

“The injury caused to public is extremely large and continue till date, as the right to reject is integral part of Article 19 but Centre and ECI did nothing to declare the election result invalid and hold fresh election, if maximum votes are polled in favour of NOTA,” avers the plea. 

He further submits that Right to Reject will control corruption, criminalisation, casteism, communalism, linguism, regionalism, nepotism, the 7 menaces of our democracy, as the political parties would be forced to give tickets to good candidates. 

The petitioner seeks the following reliefs:

a) direct the ECI 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 any particular constituency;  and,restrict the contesting candidates from taking part in the fresh election, who have participated in the invalidated election;

b) alternatively, direct 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 constituencyand,restrict the contesting candidates from taking part in the fresh election, who have participated in the invalidated election;

c) alternatively, being custodian of the Constitution and protector of the fundamental rights of citizens, direct anddeclare that “if NOTA gets maximum votes, then election to that constituency shall be invalidated and a fresh election shall be held within six months; and the contesting candidates rejected in the nullified elections, shall not be allowed to participate in the fresh election.”

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