NOTA Option- A Game-changer or mere Trumpery?

Ayushi Kalyan
Institute of Law, Nirma University

When it comes to democratic societies, where voting is an affirmation of one’s freedom and equality, the freedom to abstain from making a choice is often missing. Citizens are given the freedom to vote for any candidate standing for elections, but few democracies give voters the explicit right to reject all the candidates, if they find no one suitable. In effect, citizens are given the freedom to choose but not to declare discontent with the candidature by way of voting. The Supreme Court of India, on 27th September 2013 in the landmark case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, ruled that the right to register a “none of the above” option during elections should apply. The author aims to analyse the legal issues arising out of the judgement in light of the right to vote and violation of secrecy as being integral to fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The author further highlights the practical limitations of the option. Concluding with suggestions on how to use the option of NOTA as an effective tool of political discourse in India and not just mere trumpery, the author aims to highlight the role of NOTA as a positive call against malicious and manipulative democracy.

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