Indian Larger Bench Of Supreme Court To Decide On Rright To Negative Voting

. 2/24/09

People should have also right to give corporal punishment to corrupt netas

A larger Bench of the Indian Supreme Court will decide whether the right of a voter to exercise his choice of a candidate in an election is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, viz. right to freedom of speech and expression.

A Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and G. S. Singhvi referred to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, for posting it before a larger Bench, the petition by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) for a direction to the Union government and the Election Commission to have a provision for “negative” voting in the Representation of the People Act, giving the voter the right to register his “rejection” of the candidates.

The petitioner contended that the right of an elector to vote at an election in secrecy would include the right of negative voting and the Commission was bound to provide appropriate mechanism in the EVMs to exercise the same.

The Commission supported the petitioner’s stand that if the electors had the right to know the assets and antecedents of candidates and then make their choice there was no rationale to exclude the right of negative voting from the purview of Article 19 (1) (a).

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Singhvi referred to an earlier verdict and said, “The concomitant of the right to vote which is the basic postulate of democracy is two-fold: first, formulation of opinion about the candidates and second, the expression of choice by casting the vote in favour of the preferred candidate at the polling booth.”

The Bench said that “in the last five decades, the courts of this country have repeatedly held that democracy is one of the basic features of the Constitution and free and fair election based on universal adult suffrage is an essential component of democracy. Till 1996, this court treated the right to elect as a statutory right only because it did not have the occasion to consider the issue in the backdrop of concerted attempts made by interested quarters to corrupt and hijack the process of election and participation in election of persons with devious antecedents.”

The Bench said: “We are of the view that width and amplitude of the power of the Commission under Article 324 needs further consideration by a larger Bench in the light of the judgments of this court whereby the elector’s right to be informed about the assets and antecedents of the persons seeking election to the legislature has been duly recognised. The file of the case may, therefore, be placed before the Chief Justice for appropriate orders.”

Source: The Hindu

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