Hyderabad: The open ballot system, introduced for the Rajya Sabha elections in 2005 and upheld by Supreme Court, is intended to prevent cross-voting and corruption. The vote exercised by the MLA, even if it is across party lines, will be valid as per the rules.
This gains significance ahead of the hotly-contested Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat amid reports of the BJP allegedly trying to lure Congress MLAs to its side.
In an open ballot, the agent of a political party will know how the MLA belonging to his or her party has voted.
According to Secretary of Telangana State Legislature Dr S. Raja Sadaram, who has been Returning Officer for Rajya Sabha elections for the last decade, the procedure of casting votes by MLAs in polls to the Upper House polls is as follows:
There shall be no Whip to direct MLAs to vote for party candidates. Candidates can have their election agent sit in the polling booth along with Election Commission Officials and the Returning Officer.
Before putting it in the ballot box, each MLA after marking his vote should show the ballot paper to the election agent of his party.
If an MLA refuses to show the ballot paper to the agent, the agent can raise objections and the MLA will be prevented from putting the vote in the ballot box.
If the MLA tries to show the ballot paper to other election agents or EC officials, the vote will be declared invalid.
Even if MLA did not mark preference to the candidate put up by the political party he belongs, the vote will be valid.
No disqualification can be moved against the MLA even if s/he did not vote for the candidate put up the party since it is not known to others.
The political party based on the information provided by their election agent can either suspend or expel an MLA for cross-voting, which will be treated as an internal affair....