JK To Have NOTA Option In Lok Sabha Polls

JK To Have NOTA Option In Lok Sabha Polls

9 March 2014
Greater Kashmir
Yogesh Sagotra

Jammu: Election Commission of India has given the go-ahead for ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option in the upcoming parliamentary polls in Jammu and Kashmir. Official sources said though the electronic voting machines are yet to arrive in the state for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, beginning April 10, the state’s Electoral Office has been informed that there won’t be any separate EVMs for J&K. “The machines used in other parts of country will be used in J&K. So there is no question of not having NOTA option for the LS polls”, a senior official in the state’s Election Department said. Use of NOTA option for elections in J&K had generated a debate with some mainstream political parties opposing the move. Mainstream political parties, including Congress, had expressed fears that the option will only strengthen separatist camp, which has been giving poll boycott calls. However, the officials said that the use of NOTA option, in any case, would not have any effect on the prospect of contesting candidates. “NOTA option is not relevant. Even if the number of electors who opt for NOTA button in the EVM exceeded the votes polled by any of the candidates, the candidate with the highest number of votes would be declared winner”, J&K’s Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Rashpal Singh told Greater Kashmir. “As per the provisions of clause (A) of Rule 64 of Conduct of Election Rules-1961, read with Section 65 of the Representation of the People Act -1951, the candidate who has polled the largest number of valid votes is to be declared elected by the Returning Officer,” he said. He maintained that the provision of NOTA option is an extension of expression of decision not to vote for the contesting candidates only. “Even if a candidate manages to secure a single vote he will be declared winner by the Returning Officer as per the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act”, he said. In a step towards electoral reforms, the Apex Court had directed the Election Commission of India to have the option of ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) on the EVMs and ballot papers, which can be used by voters to reject candidates contesting the polls. The court had said that negative voting would encourage even people who are not satisfied with any of the candidates to turn up to express their opinion and reject all contestants. According to the EC, the NOTA option will be placed at the end of EVMs and ballot papers following the name and symbol of the last candidate. “These words shall be written in the same language or languages as used in case of the names of candidates. The size of the panel for ‘None of the Above’ shall be the same as for the candidates,” EC officials said.