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People's Movements hails 'Right to Reject' as important step towards decriminalization of politics
The National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) welcomes the Supreme Court of India Judgment on 'Right to Reject' directing the Election Commission to have 'None of the Above' symbol on EVM's. The Judgment puts an end to the lengthy procedure, making it easier for people to register their dissent against the candidates and maintain secrecy of their vote. While the Judgment is a very important step towards decriminalization of politics, but the benefits of it would depend on how effectively it is implemented in the forthcoming elections, both state and general elections.

They cautioned that though electoral Reforms is an important part, not the only one, in the larger process of complete political transformation leading to decentralization of power and power to people. The eroding faith of people on peoples representatives who have ignored the long pending reforms of the Electoral Process, has led to the Supreme Court Judgments on Right to reject, disqualification of convicted candidates for serious crimes and other key issues.

Those who welcomed the judgement include Medha Patkar - Narmada Bachao Andolan ; Prafulla Samantara - Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava - Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Swami Agnivesh, Bandhua Mukti Morcha; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh; Ulka Mahajan,  SEZ Virodhi Manch, Maharashtra;  Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, TN;  Akhil Gogoi - Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, AssamSandeep Pandey -, UP; Sister Celia - Domestic Workers Union, , Karnataka; Sumit Wanjale,– Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan,  Mumbai and Dr.Rupesh Verma - Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, UP.

According to them, the serious challenges remain in front of us today, in implementation of the judgment. While the present government and the members of parliament are willing to concede to legislations and some measures in response to public opinion on entitlements like right to food, right to education etc, they are hell-bent and unwilling to concede anything which will fundamentally change balance of power between the citizens and the government/parliament. The very recent short sighted Ordinance brought by the Government of India, surpassing the democratic parliamentary process, to overturn Supreme Court’s Judgment on disqualification of MP’s convicted for serious crimes, is an example for this.

However, they said the Nation needs even more radical reforms than those ordered by the Supreme Court. Cancellation of elections and holding re-elections, if more that 50% of voters among the polled votes reject all the Candidates, Institute a system of referendums to put in place a minimal kind of direct democracy, funding of elections, expenses of political parties and their sources of funding, instituting fundamental police reforms, making police and civil services accountable, etc need to be addressed more expediently.

NAPM demanded that now the Election Commission must formulate rules for proper implementation of the Judgment and contribute to the larger goal of all the struggling peoples groups, who are fighting for power at grassroots levels for good governance and accountability of their political representatives.

They said that they are confident that the government will recognise the force of peoples demand and mood of the nation, and do not take undemocratic steps to overturn the Judgments of Supreme Court by bringing an Ordinance but take steps for effective implementation of them, which will empower Indian citizens to participate in, and monitor, democratic governance.

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