‘NOTA option should be included in ballot papers’
LAHORE: Justice Shahid Karim of Lahore High Court on Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Parliamentary Law Affairs Ministry to seek instructions to add one more option in the ballot papers known as None Of The Above (NOTA).
The judge sought replies from the respondents until June 12. The judge also appointed former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt amicus curiae (friend of court) for assistance on this issue.
A local resident Wasim Rana moved the petition asking that the voters should be given an option of declaring that they did not want to exercise their right of vote against any of the contestant. Petitioner counsel Sheraz Zaka said that this option or choice should indeed be given to voters on ballot papers.
Counsel said that NOTA should be included in the ballot papers as it will enhance the scope of political expression and public confidence in the democratic process. He submitted that the option to include NOTA was a fundamental right of every citizen keeping in consideration the article 19A which recognises freedom of expression.
He argued that people who normally do not vote will also be engaged in political process and will also exercise their right to vote. He pleaded that the addition of option NOTA will ensure credibility, enhance accountability and transparency to the electoral process.
He said that significant countries including India, the United States, Bangladesh, Spain, Columbia, Russia and Chile provided the NOTA option in their electoral system.