A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said it is obvious that the returning officer has defaced the ballot papers…reports Asian Lite News
The Supreme Court on Monday came down heavily on the Returning Officer who held the Chandigarh Mayor elections, saying he was “murdering democracy” and ordered the preservation of the entire record of the election process, including ballot papers, videography and other material, through the Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said it is obvious that the returning officer has defaced the ballot papers.
“Is this the way he conducts the elections? This is a mockery of democracy. This is the murder of democracy. We are appalled. We will not allow democracy to be murdered this way. The man defaces ballots the moment he sees a cross at the bottom. This man should be prosecuted. Is this the behaviour of the returning officer?”
It directed that the meeting of the Chandigarh Corporation slated to be held on February 7 be deferred till further orders.
“Tell the Returning Officer that the Supreme Court is watching him. We will not allow democracy to be murdered like this. The great force in this country is the purity of the electoral process, but what has happened here?” said the bench.
The observations of the apex court came after it watched video of the controversial election.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kumar, said that the issue can be solved by holding a fresh election after sequestering the record.
The top court also issued notice on a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party’s councillor Kuldeep Dhalor, who had lost the mayor election to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Manoj Sonkar on January 30.
The apex court’s remarks came while hearing the plea of AAP’s councillor after the BJP won the mayor election following the Returning Officer’s move to scrape eight opposition votes.
BJP’s Sonkar bagged 16 votes against the 12 votes received by Kumar, despite having 20 councillors. The action of rejecting eight votes of the AAP-Congress alliance as invalid had sparked allegations of vote tempering.
An AAP councillor challenged a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that refused to grant any interim relief to the party seeking fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh.
Kuldeep Kumar, who lost the Chandigarh mayoral election, approached the apex court against the High Court’s refusal to grant an immediate stay on the election result in which the BJP candidate was declared the mayor.
On Wednesday, Punjab and Haryana High Court denied interim relief to the AAP, which alleged that ballot papers had been tampered with and sought fresh polls under the supervision of a retired judge of the court.
The appeal in the top court said that the High Court erred in not granting any interim relief to the AAP candidate in the form of a stay on the outcome of elections for the post of Mayor or directing the preservation of electoral records. (ANI)
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