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HomeIndiaSC appalled by defacing of ballots in Chandigarh mayoral polls

SC appalled by defacing of ballots in Chandigarh mayoral polls

An angry Supreme Court on Monday slammed the returning officer for the Chandigarh mayoral polls Anil Masih, saying he should be prosecuted as he can be clearly seen defacing the ballot papers on video to influence the election results.

“It is obvious that he has defaced the ballot papers. He needs to be prosecuted. Why is he looking at the camera? This is a mockery of democracy. We are appalled. Is this the behaviour of a returning officer? Wherever there is a cross at bottom, he does not touch it but when it is at the top, he alters it. Please tell the returning officer that the Supreme Court is watching him,” said the three-judge bench of the top court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud.

The apex court made its critical observations against Masih after hearing a plea filed by the defeated AAP councillor Kuldeep Kumar, challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order that refused to grant any interim relief to the party seeking fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh.

The court went on to issue a notice to Masih and also directed that the entire records of the mayoral elections be sequestered with the High Court registrar general.

“Let the ballots and videography too be preserved,” the court added.

The SC stayed any activity on the part of the municipal corporation for the time being. It directed that the February 7 meeting of the corporation shall stand deferred till further orders.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior lawyer appearing for the AAP and Kumar, contended before the top court that the returning officer was caught on camera smudging the ballot papers.

The defeated councillor of the AAP, Kumar, had knocked the doors of the Supreme Court on February 1, challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order refusing to grant any interim relief to the party seeking fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh.

The BJP’s Manoj Sonkar was elected as the Mayor on January 30 after he bagged 16 votes against the 12 votes received by the Congress-AAP candidate Kumar.

Kumar said the BJP won the election after one-fourth of the votes were scrapped. He and the AAP had alleged that the BJP had tampered with the ballot papers and sought fresh polls under the supervision of a retired judge of the court.

After hearing Kumar’s plea, the Punjab and Haryana HC had earlier issued a notice to the Chandigarh administration and sought its response within three weeks.

Kumar had moved the Supreme Court pleading for a direction for immediate stay on the election result. In his petition, he alleged fraud in the BJP’s win and forgery in the rejection of eight votes.

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