NOTA demystified

The Supreme Court’s NOTA judgment continues to fascinate observers.  While the judgment is hailed by several eminent people from the civil society, it requires a serious study to unravel its hollowness and expose many of the far-fetched claims of its adherents.  One such study can be found in the latest EPW, written by Manjari Katju.  In her article, she says that it is unlikely that providing Indian voters with a “no vote” option will either improve voter participation or contribute to a decriminalisation of politics. “Voter turnout is not an issue in the country, since over the long term it has been showing an upward trend. Criminalisation is the result of social and economic factors, and the nomination of candidates with a criminal background may not change merely by giving voters the option of saying “no”. In countries with a no vote option, such votes add up to an insignificant number”, she observes.

On another note, Frontline’s forthcoming issue (it is now available here) captures the mood of the political class and the civil society when NOTA poses itself as the defining moment in Indian democracy with Parliament succeeding to reverse the SC judgment in Jan Chowkidar, but failing to protect the political class from the impact of Lily Thomas and the CIC verdict reducing political parties to public authorities.

Update: Vasujith Ram of NUJS, Kolkata finds some factual omissions in the judgment and in Katju’s article in the comments section.

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Vasujith Ram
Vasujith Ram
8 years ago

Dear Sir,

The article notes: "Ukraine, another country mentioned by the Supreme Court, does have higher voter turnouts than India, but is seeing a fall in recent years. The parliamentary election participation has fallen from 75.8% in 1994 to 57.4% in 2012"

But Ukraine actually abolished the "against all" in the 2012 Parliamentary elections.

Even in Bangladesh, the no vote option has been abolished by an amendment (see –

I don't know whether to contact the author or EPW regarding this (even our Supreme Court seems to have erred in its judgment) – so I guess you can help me with this!

I've written a blog as well on the NOTA judgment here –