Right to Reject: Its Meaning and Implications


After Team Anna demanded Right to Reject and Recall, newspapers and other media ran reports over these very new concepts. There is no doubt that Right to Reject and Right to Recall would mean revolution for the Democracy and Politics. People would be surely benefited but arguments against these Rights are equally strong. This article covers various aspects of Right to Reject. An article on Right to Recall can be viewed here. Reading both the articles would give you a clear picture of both the rights.

What is Right to Reject?

Candidates  are chosen by the political parties but it might happen that people in the constituency are discontented with the candidates presented to them. On the voting machine, below the names of the candidates, a new option would be inserted which says “None of the Above”. A voter may choose “None of the Above” option to express disapproval of all the candidates given on the list. If ‘None of the Above’ option gets the maximum votes in the constituency then all the candidates would be considered as rejected. In such scenario, re-elections would take place with new candidates.

Right to RejectSomething similar already exists in the Rule 49-O Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. It states that if a  person does not want to vote, and wishes to get this fact recorded, he may follow a set procedure in the election booth and do so. But it is not as practical or as grand as Right to Reject.

The reasons why Right to Reject should be introduced:

1. Right to Reject gives people power to express discontent. If citizens are dissatisfied with the background or previous performance of the candidates, they may opt to reject all the candidates.

2.Right to Reject would check candidates with criminal records and parties would be forced to give tickets to good candidates.

3. If almost all the candidates on whom political parties spent crores of Rupees are rejected, they would be discouraged to spend their money.

4. Right to Reject would mean true democracy as the people will be able select their ‘representative’  in true sense of the word. The representative  in all likelihood would be honest and transparent in his functions as a Member of Parliament because he has gone through rigorous selection procedure.

The reasons why Right to Reject should not be introduced:

1. With Right to Reject at their disposal, people will be able to express their opinion and cast vote rejecting all the candidates but this won’t be counted against the votes cast in the candidate’s favour. The number of selections of ‘None of the above’ must have maximum votes to initiate re-election.

2. On an average 60% of the voters cast their votes. More and more people are disenchanted by the politics today. Right to reject might become a fashion statement among them which would prolong election.

3. There are around 11 million teachers, staff and other officers who assist in conducting general elections. Also, tight security measures have to be taken by police for upholding law and order during elections. It would become tedious and unnecessary burden for everyone to conduct the whole activity again if candidates get rejected.

4. The cost would increase manifold if re-elections would have to be conducted. Increases the burden on the tax payers. Also, political parties would spend huge amount again to campaign for the new candidate.

5. In J&K and some North eastern states, the right to reject may be misused to create political instability. Every candidate presented to the people might be rejected again and again, sending a negative political message.

6. Voting in India is party oriented. Masses don’t care who is representing them. Its the ruling party which matters.


Though arguments in support of Right to Reject may be less in number but they outweigh the other side. Now-a-days, candidates with serious criminal background are imposed upon the public by political parties. This gives us no choice but to exercise our very limited options that is -to choose an incompetent/corrupt candidate or not to vote at all. In spite of all the efforts of the Election Commission, the election scenario continues to be dire. In such a situation introduction of Right to Reject may prove to be a breather for the masses. The issue of introduction of Right to Reject in J&K and some North-Eastern States must be dealt with very tactfully by the Election Commission.

Its up to the Election Commission and the Government now to weigh the Pros and Cons for Right to Reject and decide whether to introduce it or not. But considering the effort of various NGO’s and other eminent personalities lobbying for it, we may hope that we will be granted with the “None of the above” option on the voting machine soon.

Express your opinion by way of comments! You might even have some points to contribute to this debate. We welcome both comments and criticism. Don’t forget to share this  article with your Facebook friends.

Link to article on Right to Recall

Article by-

Nikita Anand

Co-Founder and Editor, MightyLaws.in

Student, National Law Institute University, Bhopal. 

By Nikita Anand on November 9, 2011 · Posted in Governance and Democracy

13 Comments | Post Comment

Pronoy Kumar Ghose says:

I favour right to recall than right to reject. Right to reject is ambiguous and anti-national but right to recall is a weapon in the hands of common people to throw out the inactive and worthless parliamentarian and legislatures.

Posted on November 10th, 2011

d mohan says:

….mostly people would exercise the ‘right to reject all’ option just based on names of candidates of main 2-3 parties w/o even glancing at other names of smaller parties and independents etc..thus it will certainly force main parties to put up better candidate….however only by trying it out one can come to a firm conclusion on its usefulness..

Posted on November 11th, 2011

G K Goswami says:

Dear Nikita,
congrats for thought provoking article.
Right to reject in country like India certainly required to be implemented with great caution. I think the so called elite and educated strata in the society hardly find time to cast their vote and they crib the most for next five year.
So before any damn amendment it most urgent to strict implementation of voting right and unreasonable failure for exercising voting right must have severe consequences. Those who hardly cast their votes have no business to talk about election reforms.

Posted on November 12th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

Yes Sir. You are right. Our legislature has been foolish enough to make some double edged weapons in the past e.g. RTI, 498-A etc.
Election commission must tread with caution over this one and make the govt see sense before taking any step.

Posted on November 12th, 2011

shubham srivastava says:

Since we are not left with any other option Right to Reject is definitely a very good step. Thought objections are raised against this right but what i think is that it would definitely help a lot. Regarding the contention that it would lay huge burden of money and time it is submitted that there is no harm in being experimental. As we already spend in so many useless things just for vote politics, so spending some more money for change wont be detrimental. Our system needs to be dynamic. Thinking should change.

Posted on November 13th, 2011

Madhuri Singh says:

Nikita by writing this article you make every one to think about their voting right. In India their r 2 -3 leading parties and people are totally focused on theses parties and one has to vote even if he dont like the candidate. Now the scenario is changed and we have to think about right to recall and right to reject option but before implementing these rights we have to see the pros and cons of these rights otherwise it will like just one more amendment.

Posted on November 14th, 2011

Ian says:

liked this article.
shouldn’t it be introduced along with proportional voting system?

Posted on January 11th, 2012

Sada says:

Thought provoking article. Right to Reject option may not be a good option, in view of the reasons mentioned by you. In India, the voters are ‘purchased’ by politicians by pumping huge money, directly or indirectly. Under this conditions, we can propose a workable method which may not be a huge success, but will certainly be a better one as compared to the present method of ‘blind voting’. That is to have qualifying marks printed against each person, after a careful evaluation of candidates by a team of experts, unknown to the party or electorate. The party should send the bio data to the EC with full details. If EC finds it suspicious, the same could be verified. For a new person, he could be valued based on his educational qualification, experience and his contribution to the society. Parameters for giving marks could be framed as a law. If required, there could be an oral test conducted to judge individual person’s knowledge. Once marks are given (preferably in two digits – for an ordinary citizen to understand) in the ballet paper; it is up to the voter to decide on the candidate. Of course, here party image also plays a role. So, it is not necessary that only the highest mark holder get elected, all the time. But, this will make the political parties to put a high scoring candidates in the field, by comparing credibility of other party’s candidates.

Posted on August 1st, 2012

shreya says:

it would be a great step if implemented. I’m 17 and half and when i will be eligible to vote i wish that would have this right because its necessary to wipe out the corrupt politians from this country.

Posted on August 30th, 2012

chetan says:

Thank you very much….i am preparing for civil services and hope it will help me .

Chetan Chouhan

Posted on November 10th, 2012

Harshita says:

It is really helpful to me various issues…
thanks alot…
it helped me alot to lesarn mny yhings n hlped me to prepare a awsme debate…
thank uh…

Posted on October 24th, 2013

Priya gupta says:

Thank you very much madam .. it will help me in my debate competition of my colledge

Posted on November 7th, 2013

ankit says:

Really, a drastic step is taken by the supreme court in favour of right to reject vote.It will help us to prevent corruption to a great extent.People will not cast their vote those leaders whose previous perfomance are not satisfactory.

Posted on November 30th, 2013