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Indian top court refuses to stay use of 'none of the above' option in Rajya Sabha poll.

Summary: But will examine constitutional validity of the Election Commission's notification

Karuna Madan, Correspondent

New Delhi: In a setback to the Congress party in India, the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday refused to stay the exercise of 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option in crucial August 8 Gujarat Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) elections.

"Why are you so late in raising the question since the Election Commission (EC) had issued the notification as early as in January 2014?" the court asked Congress, which had challenged the EC's notification allowing NOTA option in the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections.

The court said the poll will be held and the results declared as per the schedule.

It, however, agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the EC's notification giving NOTA option in elections and sought the poll panel's response within two weeks.

"Issue notice to the Election Commission. We will examine it. We are not going to stay the proceedings," the SC bench said.

In its plea, Congress had said that there was no legal sanction behind introducing NOTA in the Rajya Sabha poll.

"The use of NOTA option during Rajya Sabha elections was contrary to the mandate of the Constitution, the Representation of People's Act, the conduct of election rules, as also the judgement of the Supreme Court," the party had said in its petition.

The petition, moved by senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Manish Tewari, said NOTA in indirect elections such as that of Rajya Sabha was in direct conflict with proportional representation system by means of single transferable vote.

"The Election Commission ought not to make applicable the NOTA provision in the ballot paper in the ensuing Rajya Sabha elections. The system of NOTA makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose and cannot be made applicable in the Rajya Sabha elections," it added.

Four candidates are in the fray for three Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat. Apart from Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, the BJP last week fielded Balwantsinh Rajput against lone Congress candidate Ahmed Patel.

The petition comes in the wake of defections from the Congress in Gujarat.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Aug 3, 2017
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