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Business News/ Politics / Chandigarh mayoral election: Supreme Court directs ‘recounting’, says count 8 rejected ballots as well
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Chandigarh mayoral election: Supreme Court directs ‘recounting’, says count 8 rejected ballots as well

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed recounting in the Chandigarh Mayor election with the eight ballots that were ‘invalidated’, triggering controversy

Anil Masih, Returning Officer for Chandigarh mayoral election, at the Supreme Court for a hearing in the alleged tampering in the election (PTI)Premium
Anil Masih, Returning Officer for Chandigarh mayoral election, at the Supreme Court for a hearing in the alleged tampering in the election (PTI)

The Supreme Court has directed recounting in the Chandigarh Mayor election with the eight ballots that were “invalidated", triggering controversy. A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud directed the eight “invalid" votes be treated as valid and the Chandigarh Mayor election result be declared on the basis of the recounting. The Supreme Court also came down heavily on Returning Officer Anil Masih, who had conducted the Chandigarh Mayor election and is accused of tampering with the ballots.

The Supreme Court said, “We will direct that the votes at the poll shall be recounted and these 8 shall be treated as valid and results be declared on the basis of that." The Supreme Court takes into note that all invalidated eight ballots have votes cast in favour of the AAP Mayor Candidate Kuldeep Kumar.

The Supreme Court also observed that Anil Masih puts a single line on all eight ballots that went in favour of AAP candidate Kuldeep Kumar. “What he [returning officer] does is, he puts a single line. Just one line, as seen in the video."

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Anil Masih, argued that marks that the returning officer made, were “small dots" and he looked at the cameras as “there was commotion outside".

He further added that Anil Masih, being the returning officer, was entitled to sign.

“There is a small dot if it is seen clearly…what he has done is...in one of them there is a small dot…some are folded from the top. He has, by virtue of that line tick, identified for disqualification. He may be right or wrong. That is his assessment. He looked at the video because there was commotion outside. No one can do this with cameras present. There is no guilty man looking at the camera," Mukul Rohatgi said.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER RECOUNTING?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Chandigarh Mayor election against the Congress-AAP alliance on January 30. Manoj Sonkar of the BJP defeated the AAP's Kuldeep Kumar for the mayor's post, polling 16 votes against his rival's 12. Eight votes were declared invalid.

If the eight “invalid" votes are counted as per the Supreme Court direction, the AAP-Congress alliance win the Chandigarh Mayor election.

SUPREME COURT SAYS ANIL MASIH SHOULD BE PROSECUTED

During a hearing on Monday, February 19, the Supreme Court rapped Returning Officer Anil Masih while observing that it was obvious that he had defaced the ballot papers and that he should be prosecuted. The top court noted that his actions amounted to "murder" and a "mockery" of democracy.

Responding to the allegations of the alleged tampering of the ballots, Anil Masih said he did put the "X" mark on eight already "defaced" ballot papers and looked at the camera as the AAP councillors of creating a ruckus and trying to snatch the ballots.

(With agency inputs)

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Chanchal
Chanchal is a chief content producer at LiveMint. Chanchal is obsessed with Google incognito. She likes writing, politics, Oxford comma, Eddie Vedder, and a good keyboard. Follow her @chanchaltracks. If you have a story idea, send her a mail at chanchal@htdigital.in
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Published: 20 Feb 2024, 03:04 PM IST
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