Recently, the Indore Lok Sabha constituency saw more than 2 lakh votes cast for NOTA.

More on the news

  • The extraordinary result in Indore is the most votes that the “None of The Above” (NOTA) option has ever received in any constituency to date.
  • The previous NOTA record-holder was Gopalganj, Bihar in 2019, when 51,660 voters voted for NOTA.

When and why was NOTA introduced?

  • The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to introduce the NOTA option for voters in September 2013.

• In 2004 the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to the ECI to protect the ‘right to secrecy’ of voters to exercise their franchise.

  • They argued that the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 violated the aspect of secrecy, as the Presiding Officer (from the ECI) keeps a record of voters who choose not to vote, along with the signatures or thumb impressions of each voter who exercises this right.

What is right to secrecy?

It is a central right of an elector to cast his vote without fear of reprisal, duress or coercion as per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

  • The central government argued that the right to vote is “pure and simple a statutory right” (as it is provided by a law, and not the Constitution), and only voters who exercised their right to vote have a right to secrecy as well, not those who have not voted at all.
  • SC held that “Whether a voter decides to cast his vote or decides not to cast his vote, in both cases, secrecy has to be maintained.”

If NOTA receives the highest number of votes in a constituency?

  • NOTA has no legal consequence attached to it — even if the highest number of votes in a seat are polled for NOTA, the second most successful candidate wins.
  • Currently, the apex court is considering another petition for elections to be considered “null and void” if NOTA receives the highest number of votes in the constituency. 

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