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Business News/ News / India/  Chandigarh Mayoral Polls: SC to examine ballot papers, videos of counting process today

Chandigarh Mayoral Polls: SC to examine ballot papers, videos of counting process today

Eight ‘defaced’ ballot papers at the heart of the controversy around last month's Chandigarh Mayoral Election have to be produced in the Supreme Court for counting on February 20.

SC slams horse-trading and sends for ballot papers, video of counting for scrutiny on Tuesday. Premium
SC slams horse-trading and sends for ballot papers, video of counting for scrutiny on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court of India will examine the ballot papers of Chandigarh mayoral polls and video recording of the counting process on Tuesday after raising deep concerns over horse trading and dismissing fresh polls. The top court said it may consider the declaration of results based on votes already cast. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Chandigarh mayoral polls on January 30 defeating the AAP-Congress alliance candidate after the returning officer declared invalid eight votes of the coalition partners, drawing accusations of tampering with ballots. 

BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar defeated Kuldeep Kumar after polling 16 votes against his rival's 12 to bag the mayor's post. However, Sonkar resigned subsequently while three AAP councilors defected to the BJP, PTI reported. 

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “We are deeply concerned about the horse-trading which is taking place."

They directed the registrar general of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to depute a judicial officer to bring the records safely to New Delhi and present them before it on Tuesday.

"We will list this tomorrow and see the ballot papers and decide what to do. This whole business of horse trading which is going on is very disturbing. Let the entire video of counting of the votes be also produced tomorrow noon," the CJI said.

In its order passed after a brief hearing, the bench said, “We direct that the ballot papers, which have been placed in the custody of the Registrar General of the high court will be produced tomorrow morning before this court at 10:30 am by a judicial officer to be nominated by the Registrar General…."

The top court also directed the administration to make arrangements necessary to ensure the safe transit of the judicial officer nominated by the registrar general in pursuance of its order, as per PTI reports. 

Additionally, the court directed Returning Officer Anil Masih to remain present on Tuesday as well. The counsel for AAP councilor and defeated mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar vehemently opposed the suggestion.

The bench orally observed that the electoral process may be taken to "its logical conclusion from the stage which was reached immediately before the declaration of the results".

During the hearing, the CJI voiced displeasure over the way the poll was held and told Masih he could be prosecuted.

"This is a very serious matter...In case of any falsehood, you will be prosecuted," he warned the returning officer and asked him why was he seen looking into the camera and putting ‘X’ marks on ballot papers.

Masih has been accused of defacing eight ballot papers that were declared invalid.


(With PTI inputs)

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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 08:46 AM IST
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