Election Reforms in India and to make NOTA effective

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Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, allows a person to contest a general election or a group of by-elections or biennial elections from two constituencies, whereas Section 70 of the RPA specifies that if a person is elected to more than one seat in either House of the Parliament or in either House of the state Legislature, then he/she can only hold on to one of the seats that he/she won in the election, has been challenged as unconstitutional before the Hon'ble Apex Court.

The Election Commission, however, in its response said it had made a proposal to the government in 2004 and 2016 to amend the provisions of Representation of the People Act to restrict the contest from only one constituency. It was for the Centre to act on the proposal. Rejecting the Election Commission’s proposal, the Centre said the provision was intended to strike a reasonable balance for candidates who wanted to contest in two constituencies and the rights of voters. Such a provision provides wider choice to the polity as well as the candidate and is in line with the democratic set up in the country, the Centre stated.

One Person One Vote and One Candidate One Constituency is the dictum of democracy. When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he/she has to vacate one of the two seats if he/she wins both. This, apart from the consequent unavoidable financial burden on the public exchequer, government manpower and other resources for holding bye-election against the resultant vacancy is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency, which the candidate is quitting from where he/she was elected.

The concept of NOTA was introduced in the EVMs in December 2013 elections for boycotting the elections legally when voters don’t find any suitable candidate in their constituency. So, basically NOTA gives the right to voters in any constituency that if they do not want to vote for any of the candidates contesting the election; they can push the button of NOTA mentioned in the EVMs. Keep in mind that the votes given to the NOTA are counted but they are considered illegal votes, i.e. NOTA votes don’t have any role in the result of the elections, meaning thereby, NOTA has been provided to people of India as a Right to Reject as teethless tiger.

Solutions:-

  1. If a candidate contesting from two seats should bear the cost of the bye-election to the seat that the contestant decides to vacate in the event of his/her winning both seats.
  2. To restrict a seating MLA to contest election of MP and/or if a seating MLA contesting election for MP and win, then he should bear the cost of the bye-election to the seat that the contestant decides to vacate in the event of his/her winning election of MP.
  3. if any re-election is to be forced due to candidate or party, then the candidate or party concern should bear the cost of the re-election for BOOTH.
  4. "NOTA” will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate.
  5. Elections shall be held again in those constituencies where victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA or if the winning candidates have failed to get a third vote of total votes and the candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA would not be eligible, anytime in future, to file nominations for fresh polls to be held later.
  6. If a contesting candidate and the NOTA both receive equal valid votes, the candidate shall be declared elected.

Therefore, the right to the NOTA started by the Election Commission and giving it the status of fictional electoral candidate is an excellent move to strengthen the democracy. I think this step will make political parties more responsible to solve the problems of the voters. When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he/she has to vacate one of the two seats if he/she wins both. This, apart from the consequent unavoidable financial burden on the public exchequer, government manpower and other resources for holding bye-election against the resultant vacancy is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency, which the candidate is quitting from where he/she was elected.