A petitioner had approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court under Article 226 of Constitution of India referring the amendment introduced on 10.07.2018 to the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Conduct of Elections) Rules, 2006.
Petitioner prayed before the court that not conducting any election/poll for a post where there is an only single candidate in the fray for such post in the territorial constituency, for the member of various local governing bodies and thereby depriving electors of their right to vote in the form of NOTA vote cast against such candidate.
Further, Petitioner contended that merely declaring such single candidate as duly elected as a member of any particular local governing body, while not enabling and maintaining a record of NOTA votes cast as being violative of the constitutional and statutory right of elector guaranteed under Constitution of India. Hence illegal and arbitrary in nature.
Petitioner has sought a direction to the State Election Commission to conduct the polls and allow casting of the vote against such candidate in the interests of justice "else the electors and public at large shall suffer irreparable loss and injury”.
In view of the above Andhra Pradesh High Court, Division bench on 28 July 2020 issued an order by clarifying that in cases where candidates have been declared uncontested, NOTA does not apply, Court observed looking to the legislative intent of the provision, that option may be permitted to be exercised only on a contest of the election
Court reiterated “During deliberations, while discussing on the nomenclature of NOTA, it clearly reflects that this contingency applies in the case where there is a contest of election and as per the language set up in Rule 35-A of the Rules also, it reflects that, when there is an election through Ballot Boxes or EVMs., only then, they said option can be exercised’’
A division bench of High Court clarified that the option of NOTA cannot be made available when there is a single candidate contesting in the elections, and the candidate shall be declared as unanimously elected.
Andhra Pradesh noted aforesaid contentions and dismissed the Writ Petition.