Supreme Court To Examine Chandigarh Poll Ballot Papers Amid Tampering Row

The bench also questioned Masih about a viral video showing him marking the ballot papers while glancing at the CCTV camera in the chamber. Masih admitted to putting 'X' marks on the eight ballot papers to ensure they did not get mixed up.

Supreme Court To Examine Chandigarh Poll Ballot Papers Amid Tampering Row - SurgeZirc India
Supreme Court To Examine Chandigarh Poll Ballot Papers Amid Tampering Row.

The Supreme Court is set to scrutinize the ballot papers of the Chandigarh mayoral election and review the video recording of the counting process today. The court’s decision comes after expressing concerns about potential “horse-trading” and the disputed victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the election.

During Monday’s hearing, the Supreme Court criticized the Returning Officer, Anil Masih, stating that he must be prosecuted for “defacing ballot papers.” The court also ordered Masih to be present in court on Tuesday.

The BJP emerged victorious in the Chandigarh mayoral polls on January 30, defeating the AAP-Congress alliance candidate after the returning officer declared eight votes of the coalition partners as invalid. This decision sparked accusations of tampering with the ballots.

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Manoj Sonkar of the BJP secured the mayor’s post by polling 16 votes against his rival’s 12. However, Sonkar subsequently resigned, and three AAP councillors defected to the BJP. In response to alleged forgery and foul play, the defeated mayoral candidate, Kuldeep Kumar of the AAP, approached the Supreme Court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court refused to grant an immediate stay on the poll result.

During yesterday’s hearing of Kumar’s petition, the bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud expressed displeasure over the conduct of the Chandigarh mayoral election. The bench stated, “We are pained by the horse-trading which has happened in Chandigarh assembly. This business of horse-trading should be stopped, and that is why we want to see the ballot papers.”

The bench also questioned Masih about a viral video showing him marking the ballot papers while glancing at the CCTV camera in the chamber. Masih admitted to putting ‘X’ marks on the eight ballot papers to ensure they did not get mixed up.

The bench expressed concern over this action, as under the rules, the returning officer can only sign the ballots. The Chief Justice of India stated that Masih must be prosecuted, emphasizing that such actions cannot be allowed in an electoral democracy.

The Supreme Court’s decision to examine the ballot papers and review the video recording of the counting process is a significant step towards ensuring transparency and fairness in the Chandigarh mayoral election.

By addressing the concerns of potential tampering and horse-trading, the court is reaffirming the importance of upholding democratic principles and safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process.

This case highlights the need for strict adherence to election rules and regulations, as well as the responsibility of returning officers to act impartially and without bias. The Supreme Court’s scrutiny of the ballot papers and video recording will provide an opportunity to assess the validity of the election results and address any irregularities that may have occurred.

The outcome of this examination will have far-reaching implications, not only for the Chandigarh mayoral election but also for the broader electoral landscape in India. It will serve as a reminder that any attempts to manipulate or tamper with the electoral process will not be tolerated and will be met with legal consequences.

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