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SC's negative voting verdict, good or bad for democracy

India is often being quoted as largest, youngest and most vibrant democracy where political representatives functions in best interest of its people. However, selection of some candidates has put a blot on our sacrosanct democratic character.

Recent landmark verdict by Supreme Court which gives choice to voter to vote for none of the fielded candidates is a step closer to make democracy more representative.

Now candidates will be allowed to press None Of the Above button at electronic voting machines to reflect their disenchantment towards political parties for the failure to field responsible and untarnished candidates in election.

Giving right to reject will protect fundamental right of freedom of expression under Article 21 of our constitution. This will also in turn check growing alienation of our voters with voting process and will insure higher voters turn out and less impersonation during elections.

Even Supreme Court acknowledges that "lesser voter participation is the rejection of commitment to democracy slowly but definitely". Since democracy is all about options and denying voters the option to vote for none of the candidates was demeaning the democratic nature of our election procedure.

Political parties which were till now fielding corrupt candidates with criminal backgrounds which insures them a seat using money and muscle power , will need to work out their strategy for better scrutiny so that more clean image candidates represents them in election.

More over in the wake of Supreme court declaring sec 8 (4) of RPA 1951 as ultra vires, under which all convicted persons have to resign from parliament and state legislatures, it has become imperative for parties to field candidates with clean image. Otherwise they will have to face ire of public during elections, whose interest they acclaim to represent because people will have all right to reject those candidates and political parties

who are blot on our democracy. This will also check the problem of Criminalisation of politics and politicization of criminals which has resulted in policy paralysis in our country and hijacked the interest of nation and its people.

Supreme Court's verdict has emboldened our election commission and law commission which had earlier recommended negative/neutral voting to make election process more participative and meaningful.

India is not the first country to have such system as it is already being followed in over 13 other countries and their experience have shown that it has triggered healthy democracy and closer people connect with political system besides fostering integrity of election process

But in India we observe that in past even a candidate whom gets less than the majority of the votes can still ends up as the winner. This right to reject can be hampering the result because it does not insure victory for the best candidate.

The elections in India where candidates get votes on religion, caste lines, regional aspiration, populist promises, money and muscle power will still insure victory for undeserving candidates.

For example in a polls where 100 votes are casted among three candidates and 90 voters pressing none of the above option even a candidate with at least 4 votes can win (just 4 percent), this is a irony of our electoral process.

There is immediate need to amend representation of people Act - 1951 to insure that if majority of votes polled in booth are none of the above, re voting happens and those candidates who were contesting should not allowed to re contest in fresh polling.

Although it will increase some financial burden to already gargantuan election expenditure but it will insure selection of better candidates in best of the interest of our democracy.

Thus right to reject opens the door for freedom of expression to our voters is a step closer for representative democracy by insuring more voter participation but there is serious need to amend certain electoral provisions in our constitution for making it more meaningful and empowering

Bafpalbir singh