06 July, New Delhi
The Election Commission today once again clarified that every voter in the Presidential election has a right to vote for any of the candidates or not to vote in the poll at all and the political parties cannot issue whip to their members to vote for a particular candidate.
”Every elector at the Presidential election has the freedom of making a choice to vote for any of the candidates or not to vote at the election, as per his free will and choice,” the poll panel said underliningthat this will equally apply to the political parties and they are free to canvas or seek votes of electors for any candidate or requesting or appealing to them to refrain from voting.
”However, the political parties cannot issue any direction or whip to their members to vote in a particular manner or not to vote at the election leaving them with no choice, as that would tantamount to the offence of undue influence within the meaning of section 171C of the IPC,” the EC said in a statement.
The Commission also clarified that voting at election to the office of President is different from voting by a member of Parliament or State Legislature inside the House and that, as held by the Supreme Court in kuldipNayar v Union of India (AIR 2006 SC 3127) whether the provisions of Tenth Schedule to the Constitution would be attracted in the case of the election to the Rajya Sabha if a member of a State Legislative Assembly votes for a candidate in defiance the party’s directions, where the votes are now given by the system of open voting.
The Supreme Court held that an elector would not attract the penal provisions of the Tenth Schedule for having so voted at the Rajya Sabha election. The Tenth Schedule relates to provisions relating to disqualification of an MP or an MLA on grounds of defection.