Wednesday, December 24, 2008

49-0: Clarification of Election Commission on 5th Dec, 2008

Rule 49 O is a rule in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and NOT a section in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. There are lot of reports on the Internet and on emails with contradicting information. The Election Commission in a press release on Dec 5th, 2008 clarified the air around 49-0. Here is the entire press release, reproduced from ECI website. Please forward this to as many people as possible.

Rule 49-0 is from the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 - Please do not misinterpret this provision. This only says,

1. If a voter chooses not to vote, he can fill form 17A available with the presiding officer of the booth. This will prevent your vote from being polled by some other person( bogus votes can be prevented).

2. Even if the no of people who exercised 49-0 is greater than the number of votes polled in favour of the winning candidate, there will be no re-election or cancellation of voting.

3. So this provision is only to prevent your vote being misused by someone else when you really do not like any of the candidates.

In most cases, the presiding officers wont even have the 17A forms. Loksatta tried getting the count of all votes under 49-0 , number of polled votes and the winning margins of candidates polling booth wise. They have tried getting this info from the Election commission. This is to prove that if large number of people in a booth have not voted and the candidate has won just by polling 30% of the total votes, then the campaign for NOTA (none of the above) will be strengthened.

PLEASE do not misinterpret this.

This provision is only to prevent your vote being misused by someone else when you really do not like any of the candidates.

In the PROPOSED ELECTORAL REFORMS by the Election Commission of India, which was forwarded to the Prime Minister of India on 05/07/2004, the following reform was proposed;


The Commission has received proposals from a very large number of individuals and organizations that there should be a provision enabling a voter to reject all the candidates in the constituency if he does not find them suitable. In the voting using the conventional ballot paper and ballot boxes, an elector can drop the ballot paper without marking his vote against any of the candidates, if he chooses so. However, in the voting using the Electronic Voting Machines, such a facility is not available to the voter. Although, Rule 49 O of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 provides that an elector may refuse to vote after he has been identified and necessary entries made in the Register of Electors and the marked copy of the electoral roll, the secrecy of voting is not protected here inasmuch as the polling officials and the polling agents in the polling station get to know about the decision of such a voter..

The Commission recommends that the law should be amended to specifically provide for negative / neutral voting. For this purpose, Rules 22 and 49B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 may be suitably amended adding a proviso that in the ballot paper and the particulars on the ballot unit, in the column relating to names of candidates, after the entry relating to the last candidate, there shall be a column .None of the above., to enable a voter to reject all the candidates, if he chooses so. Such a proposal was earlier made by the Commission in 2001 (vide letter dated 10.12.2001).

(A petition by the People.s Union for Civil Liberties seeking such a provision filed at the time of the recent general elections is pending before the Hon'ble Supreme Court)"

The text inside "" is what the commission has recommended.

Download the Press Release Here.

Press Note

Subject: Rule 49 O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961- exercise of option by the voters – Impact on the election result.

It has been brought to the notice of the Commission that various misleading reports are being circulated though the Press, the electronic media, emails and through SMS to the effect that if the number of voters who choose to exercise their option not to vote for any contesting candidate as provided in Rule 49-O of Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, exceeds the margin of votes secured by the winning candidate over the runner up, this will invalidate the election and a repoll will be held. It is clarified that under Rule 49-O, the voter has an potion not to vote at the election after he has been identified at the polling station and his name has been registered in Registers of voters (Form -17A). The Presiding Officer shall thereupon make a note to that effect against the name of that voter and obtain his signature (thumb impression in the case of an illiterate ).
In such case, the voters who exercise the option of not voting at the election under Rule 49-O would only be deemed to have abstained themselves from voting and under the law, the candidate who secures highest number of valid votes polled, irrespective of his winning margin, is declared elected.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On tour to spread the RTI message !!

I have been travelling the last 2 weekends. Specifically to spread the word about RTI. Last weekend, i had been to Nellore to address a gathering. This weekend , i am off to Repalle in Guntur district to address 500 college youth giving lectures in colleges all day...

It is quite something to come face to face with real problems and offer advice on how normal citizens can solve problems using RTI ...

Spread the RTI Message...

Its Now or Never !!!

Use RTI !!!