The latest decision by the Supreme Court of India declaring that the Voters have the Right to cast a Negative Vote in an Election if they found all the candidates unsuitable for being elected by pressing the No Option Button in the Electronic Voting Machine(EVM).
In a related move the Government passed an ordinance that
‘Sitting Legislator so convicted ,would be allowed to continue while an appeal is pending.
However, he/she will not be allowed to Vote in the House or draw a Salary’
The Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi called the Ordinance as Non sense and as expected created a storm.
“Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi put the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in collision course with the party after he called an ordinance approved by the Cabinet and meant to protect convicted politicians “nonsense”. He said it ought to be “torn up and thrown away”.
To make matters worse, he added: “I feel, personally feel, that what our government has done as far as this ordinance is concerned is wrong.”
Let us leave the motives behind Rahull Gandhi’s statement and whether there was a communication gap between the Party, read Sonia Gandhi and the Mouna Guru of a PM ManMohan Singh.
I witnessed a discussion on the subject in various TV channels.
Those who welcome or advocated the Ordinance had one seemingly just justification.
That is the fear of being framed by the Ruling Party on the eve of Elections , by foisting false cases.
And this would result in hindering the democratic process.
But look at the ordinance.
If a Legislator can not Vote or draw a Salary what difference does it make between totally forfeiting his election ?
The result in both the cases are the same.
And even if the apprehension, true of course,the politicians must remember that the privilege of foisting cases on the political opponents is open to all the parties.
Therefore each party will think twice before foisting cases.
What these parties do not admit that they do have criminals and that they are legislators and the parties are not willing to take any action to change this, Communist Parties included.
So the ordinance is Thrash and is motivated by the desire to protect criminals, called Politicians, as they guarantee Votes, along with the perceived Caste Group.
The fate of the controversial ordinance against disqualification of convicted lawmakers appears sealed with Rahul Gandhi today slamming it as “complete nonsense” and which should be “torn up and thrown away”.
Party leaders said that it was now a mere formality that the Union Cabinet withdraws the measure after the return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the US.
Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken also gave indications making it clear “Rahul ji’s opinion is the opinion and the line of Congress… Now Congress party is opposed to this Ordinance. The views of Congress party should always be supreme.”
Maken sidestepped questions on whether Gandhi’s remarks meant a “rebellion” against the government or a public snub to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government and whether it has now become a lame duck…
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that negative voting would foster purity and vibrancy of elections and ensure wide participation as people who are not satisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their opinion rejecting contestants.
It said that the concept of negative voting would bring a systemic change in the election process as the political parties will be forced to project clean candidates in polls.
The bench noted that the concept of negative voting is prevalent in 13 countries and even in India, parliamentarians are given an option to press the button for abstaining while voting takes place in the House.
The court said right to reject candidates in elections is part of fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression given by the Constitution to Indian citizens.
It said that democracy is all about choice and significance of right of citizens to cast negative voting is massive.
With the concept of negative voting, the voters who are dissatisfied with the candidates in the fray would turn up in large number to express their opinion which would put unscrupulous elements and impersonators out of the polls, it said.
The bench, while reading out the operative portion of the judgement, did not throw light on a situation in case the votes cast under no option head outnumber the votes got by the candidates.
It said that secrecy of votes cast under the no option category must be maintained by the Election Commission.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by an NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) which had submitted that voters be given the right to negative voting.
Agreeing with the NGO’s plea, the bench passed the path-breaking verdict and introduced the concept of negative voting in the election process, saying that it would further empower the voters in exercising their franchise.
The latest verdict is part of series of judgements passed by the apex court on the election process.
Earlier, the apex court had restrained people in custody from contesting elections.
The apex court has also ruled that MPs and MLAs would stand disqualified after being convicted of serious crimes.
The government has brought an ordinance seeking to negate the court’s judgement striking down a provision in the electoral law that protected convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification.