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.
Something 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.
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Link to article on Right to Recall
Co-Founder and Editor, MightyLaws.in
Student, National Law Institute University, Bhopal.