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.


percom said...

Its very informative . But many of the voters dont know this provision and dont turn out to the booth .

-geebs- said...

so this means all those mails are either misinformative (as most are) or it actually makes sense for ppl to spread such propaganda cos all those who receive such mails and consider themselves "anti-bad-politics", abstain from voting, thereby giving an easy win to the candidate who can actually buy votes.
err... made any sense??

R Krishna said...

Update on 49-0 :

Harinath Mallepally said...

It is disappointing. I thought 49-O is powerful, but it is not.

Rakesh said... its present way, its not powerful, but it does protect your vote..PUCL had filed a PIL in the supreme court asking for the rejection power for voters

Girish said...

There seems to be a phenomenon amongst the so called intellects of the society to suggest one or the other thing to keep people busy. I dont know who started this gossip the you can cast a negative votes under rule 40-0 and if the nos of 49-0 votes are more then 50% then it would result a repoll.

This is work of the people who does not want to study the rules for propagating better suggestion to people but to just keep a discussion on for the sake of discussion. The correct status can be understood by anybody who has read section 49-0 .

Secondly if the right of negative votes is given then this will result in making our democracy Brooke. Out of 543 seats only half will get clear winners and reelection on the remaining constituency will be a non stop burden on Election Commision , Administration and Taxpayers. This would turn in to a ritual which in it self will be a 5 year plan.

I think the debate should be for adopting 2 party system in India , this would lead these politicians to firstly live with each other and not form individual political parties to serve their petty interests.

uttishta said...

Thanks for all the idea on 49-O
Abhilash -

Bindu Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bindu said...

Rakesh, very well interpretted. Many forwarded mails on this topic are absolutey wrong as they say section 49-0 of the constitution. You have put it very well and clarified all the doubts...

Aneeees said...

Rakesh, Can you share with us what is the status of the 49-0 rule now.. can we practise it for the coming election? or is there any stay over the rule in court?

Aniz Cochin

Rakesh said...

@ Aniz,

You can very well use the 49-0 in the coming election. There is no stay over this. But as i said, this is just to prevent someone voting on your name. It will not contribute to repolling or cancellation as its been circulating in mails.

Ask for form 17(a) with the Booth officer.

Rups said...

Thanks Rakesh... very informative and important clarification... incidentally I had also arrived at similar conclusion, but refused to beleive my own inference..
Due to wide spread circulation of the 49-O rumor...
Also because i beleived in the Romantic thought that the small common man DID HAVE THIS WEAPON to fight the SYSTEM...
But mysteriously he had been hoodwinked by the powers that be... by suppressing this important information from him...

Well, this 49-O Rumour served at least ONE PURPOSE! i.e. to AWAKEN this generation in the power of each ONE VOTE... and POWER OF ONE-SELF.

Keep up the good work... I am inspired & ur FAN, now.

leena said...

in himachal pradesh 4th nov elction wht should we do if we don't like any leader of any party can we use this 49-0 ?

Rakesh said...

Leena: Ask for form 17A from the presiding officer in the polling booth and tell him/her that you do not want to vote. Then your vote cannot be used by anyone else.

yogesh kavishvar said...

i try it. But, form 17-A is not available in booth. Presiding officer, booth officer & collector is say: we are not printed any form name of the 17-a. Why ?