Right to cast "Negative Vote"

Today morning after reading my post on compulsory voting, my friend Ajai was asking me about right to caste a negative vote. He was saying, he has never felt anyone except Dr.Shashi Tharoor deserved his vote. I am pretty sure many others would be feeling the same as Ajai. Often we may not find any candidate who are eligible to get our vote but still we will have to vote for someone or we will have to abstain from voting. In the latter case we are not exercising a valuable right; rather we are forced not to exercise it.
Do we have a right o caste to a negative vote?? As of now the answer is no.
In the voting using the conventional ballot paper and ballot boxes, an elector can drop the ballot paper without marking his vote against any of the candidates, if he chooses so. However, in the voting using the Electronic Voting Machines, such a facility is not available to the voter. Although, Rule 49 O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 provides that an elector may refuse to vote after he has been identified and necessary entries made in the Register of Electors and the marked copy of the electoral roll, the secrecy of voting is not protected herein as much as the polling officials and the polling agents in the polling station get to know about the decision of such a voter.
The Election Commission has recommended in its report on "Electoral Reforms" that the law should be amended to specifically provide for negative / neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 and 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 may be suitably amended adding a proviso that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column “None of the above”, to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so. Such a proposal was earlier also made by the Commission in 2001.
A petition filed by the NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties seeking such a provision filed at the time of the recent general elections is pending before the Hon’b'le Supreme Court now. The government in this case has informed the Supreme Court that Indian citizens have no "statutory right to refrain from voting". The case which initially came up before a two judge bench has been referred to a larger bench. A two-judge bench of Justice B N Aggrawal (As His Lordship then was) and Justice G S Singhvi felt that the issue needed to be adjudicated by a larger bench as there were certain "doubts" over the interpretation of the ruling passed by a Constitution Bench in the Kuldip Nayar vs Union of India case relating to a voter's right. They opined: "The opening line of para 362 tends to create a doubt whether the right of a voter to exercise his choice for the candidate is a necessary concomitant of the voter's freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) (freedom of expression and speech). Therefore, this issue needs a clear exposition of law by a larger bench. "

The ball is now in the Apex Court's court. Lets hope the Apex Court will recognize the right of a voter to cast negative vote.

11 comments: (+add yours?)

thoughtful delights said...

Dear Raghul,

First of all...Let me Congratulate You For taking this Effort...The Blog is Completely Informative,Specific and Clear....

Now Talking About Negative Voting....It should be Said that It is the Basic Right of A Citizen to Decide What His Vote Should Do...Refraining that can be Considered as a Violation of Personal Liberty Under Article 21....Let Us Hope that the Apex Court Will Pass a Proper Decree after Hearing Both Sides....

Take Care.. :-)

Raghul Sudheesh said...

Dear Rahul,

Thanx for all your support... It really matters a lot !!

Well even i feel it will be violation of right under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21; since this is something which affects our freedom of expression and personal liberty. Fundamental Rights, especially Article 21, have been given the widest possible interpretation by the Apex Court always. We can hope for the same in this case also.

thoughtful delights said...

Yes Brother...!!!


Dear Raghul,

i thank you for taking this much effort on this matter....Its really a good blog..

now about this article,,their are peoeles who don't know why they vote,they just vote because they know they have voting right, and i think you know how the election and voting goes..as you know only 2% people know their laws remaining peoples don't know what all are laws there for them..
Let us see what the apex court do in this matter..

take care..
keep going..

Raghul Sudheesh said...

Dear Shashidhar,

Thankyou friend for the encouragement, this is what helps me to keep posting !!!

Lets wait for the Apex Court decision !!!

Take care...

Sudheesh said...

Dear my son ,Iam proud of u

Raghul Sudheesh said...

Thank you so much Dad !! You are my biggest strength !!!

George Johnson said...

Dear Raghul
Its encouraging and informative.. keet it up.
George Johnson
Kerala High Court Cases and Kerala Law decision

Raghul Sudheesh said...

Thank you dear sir !!!

neeraja said...

thanks chetta,for telling me abt this blog.........it has got too many stuff,pretty useful too.....i never heard of negative voting rights before........i'm definitely following ur blog frm now on!!!!!!!thankzz again

Raghul Sudheesh said...

Its my pleasure dear !!!

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