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HC asks SEC to implement NOTA in Gujarat local body polls

NOTA option on VVPAT

Ahmedabad : The Gujarat High Court today directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to include the option of NOTA (none of the above) in the upcoming local body polls in the state.

A two-judge bench of the High Court comprising acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjaria today ordered the SEC to implement NOTA and directed the state to provide all the required assistance.

The High Court today modified its earlier order in which the court had, in August, stayed the provisions of compulsory voting in local body polls as sections of NOTA and compulsory voting were conjoined in the three acts pertaining to Panchayat, Municipal and Corporation polls.

As the High Court had stayed implementation of compulsory voting and NOTA, the state election commission had this time not included the option of NOTA for voters. This was challenged before the court by city based advocate K R Koshti.

“Considering the facts and decision of the Supreme Court (regarding implementation of NOTA), we find that Right to vote in favour of none of the candidate is one of the right of voters and it is so identified and strengthened by the Apex court. Therefore interim stay (on compulsory voting) relief granted deserves to be modified to that extent (for inclusion of NOTA),” said the high court.

“However on the aspect of apprehension voiced by the State Election Commission for the difficulties on account of modification of this order, we find it should be expected for SEC to encourage more freedom on the part of the voters. Difficulties cannot be equated with impossibilities,” the court said.

“Democracy being the essence in any democratic country, all the efforts for ensuring the elections and that too by making atmosphere available to voters for excercising right to vote and right to NOTA must be made by the Election commission,” it said.

The High Court also directed the state government to provide all the necessary assistance to Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections.

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