Supreme Court slams presiding officer's conduct in Chandigarh mayoral poll

Wednesday 07th February 2024 05:59 EST

New Delhi: Days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) approached the Supreme Court alleging “cheating" in the results of Chandigarh mayoral polls, the apex court slammed the conduct of the presiding officer and called it a “mockery of democracy." The Supreme Court directed the administration that all ballot papers and videos related to the Chandigarh mayoral polls must be handed over to the registrar of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud-led bench which included Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra observed that the returning officer Anil Masih must be prosecuted as he was clearly seen defacing the ballot papers on video.
"It is obvious that he has defaced the ballot papers, he needs to be prosecuted. Why is he looking at the camera. Mr Solicitor, this is a mockery of democracy and murdering democracy. We are appalled. Is this behaviour of a returning officer. Wherever there is cross at bottom, he does not touch it and when it is at the top he alters it, please tell returning officer that Supreme Court is watching him," Bar and Bench quoted Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud as saying.
The apex court ordered that the February 7 meeting of Chandigarh municipal corporation must be deferred until further instructions.

The Supreme Court's strict observations come as AAP alleged that the returning officer defaced the ballot papers to declare its votes invalid and announced BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar as the winner of the election. The AAP and Congress were fighting the Chandigarh mayoral election in an alliance and had a comfortable majority of 20 votes in a 35-member House.
The BJP had 15 votes- 14 from councilors and one from MP Kirron Kher. But, after the elections, the BJP candidate was declared the winner with 16 votes while 8 votes of the AAP-Congress alliance were declared invalid.

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