NOTA In India

India is the largest democracy in the whole world. There are numerous elections that are conducted every year. Right from State elections, District level elections, Panchayat level elections to Central Government elections all these elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India that was established in the year 1950. 

This body, the Election Commission of India made things quite easier for us ever since the body came into existence. The body looks after a lot many tasks which further help in the smooth functioning of the procedure in the electoral commission. While still now the body is continuously evolving to make the election scenario better. 

There are mixed opinions when it comes to elections and the candidates who are competing to win seats in these elections. People are not always happy and satisfied with the candidates who are running for the elections. Often times people do not have any other but to compromise and vote for the candidates they do not approve of, because of heavy influence and corruption within the system undeserving candidates with little or no qualifications end up winning elections. 

The full form of NOTA is ‘None of the Above’. Many times, it has been observed that if people do not want to vote for any candidate due to any local issue problems such as electricity, water, roads or criminal records of the candidate, so to empower the voice of the voters the Election Commission of developed a mechanism in the voting system so that people can get the right to reject all the candidate 

The idea of “None of the above’ ballot option originated in 1976 when the Isla Vista Municipal Advisory Council passed a resolution to put forward this choice in the official electoral ballot, in County of Santa Barbara, California, in the USA. 

NOTA was used for the first time in the 2013 assembly elections in five states – Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh – and later in the 2014 General Elections. It was introduced into the electoral process following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in PUCL versus Union of India case. The Supreme Court reasoned that the NOTA option would allow voters to express their discontent with the political parties and the candidates they put up and thus, help cleanse the political system. 

In a landmark decision the Haryana Election Commission had treated ‘None-of-the-above’ or NOTA option as a “fictional candidate” in municipal polls from December 2018. Now “NOTA” will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate. If all the contesting candidates individually receive less votes than “NOTA” none of the candidates will be declared elected. The elections will be cancelled and held afresh. 

NOTA has no electoral value in the Indian system. Even if the maximum votes are given in favour of NOTA, the candidate with the largest number of votes, which could theoretically even be just one, will still be declared elected. 

Even though NOTA has no electoral value it is beneficial to the citizens in a way that it is a good way for them to express their discontent. It is also seen as a tool for the marginalised groups to highlight their issues that would not otherwise find space in the complicated and influential political scenario. 


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