NOTA  and  the  election  of none!
SIR, The doctrine of dual effect is often invoked to explain action that is intended to yield positive results, but instead causes  serious harm, such as the death of a person. A striking example is abortion or medical termination of pregnancy. It is carried out to save the life of a pregnant woman to whom pregnancy can be life-threatening. But saving the woman&’s life entails the death of a foetus which has the potential to grow and develop into a person. In other words, saving one life necessarily involves collateral damage by way of death of another life. In modern philosophy, Philippa Foot of Sommerville College, Oxford, is the main proponent of the doctrine of double effect, an ethical theory which was further extended by Judith Jarvish Thompson of MIT.
In this context, let us look at NOTA, the ‘None of the Above’ option in the voting procedure. Inclusion of NOTA is regarded as a significant milestone in electoral reforms.  The purpose of introducing the additional option is to widen the scope of the elector&’s freedom of choice in the expression of his/her individual preference for the election of competent and deserving candidates and elimination of incompetent and corrupt candidates for the sake of good governance and efficient administration. The NOTA provision offers greater flexibility and freedom of social choice to the voter in the exercise of his/her democratic and fundamental right of franchise. But the collective decision of individual preferences may give rise to an unintended outcome which is antagonistic to the original objective of NOTA and may even be incompatible with it. The probability of no candidate being elected cannot be ruled out. Therefore, the potential threat of an adverse side-effect (or double effect) of NOTA is not unfounded. All aspects of the provision need to be examined before implementation.
Yours, etc., Tapan Kumar Mukherjee,
Burdwan, 11 October.

SIR, Negative voting is just another form of poll boycott. Franchise in India is neither a fundamental right nor a fundamental duty. In  many constituencies, voters boycott the election because of  non-performance of elected legislators and the government.
The  nominees of political parties and  Independent candidates are not people&’s representatives; at best, they represent parties and individual political ambition.  This  is  a  flaw  in the Westminster  model  of  democracy that India adopted in 1950.
 Yours, etc., Bibekananda Ray,
Kalyani, 2 October.

SIR, This is with reference to your editorial, ‘None of you?’ (7 October). I entirely agree with your contention that in the absence of a minimum number of votes that  a candidate is required to get, there is nothing to worry about NOTA. Nor will it prompt  a voter to cast his/her vote. Just as a “magic figure” is essential for the formation of a government, so too must an aspirant get the minimum number of votes to be declared the winner.
Otherwise, it will turn out to be yet another button that means nothing either to those who vote or those who contest.
Yours, etc., PM Sen,
Kolkata, 11 October.

SIR, By ordering the inclusion of the expenditure on the rally addressed by Baba Ramdev in the election expenses of  the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Election Commission has transgressed its own authority and the law. In the context of the assembly elections, only the Model Code of Conduct for political parties has come into force.
The election process has not actually commenced. It will come into force from the day the Governor of Chhattisgarh issues a notification calling upon the electorate to vote in the assembly election. This has not been done so far. The assessment of election expenditure  of a candidate or political parties shall commence from that very date. The Election Commission has no authority to include any expenditure on public rallies organized by parties before that date.
Yours etc. Amba Charan Vashishth,
New Delhi, 11 October.