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Supreme Court seeks ballot papers of Chandigarh mayor election

Published:

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over reports of

horse trading

of councillors for

Chandigarh mayor election

,

Supreme Court

on Monday decided to examine whether

result

could be declared on the basis of votes cast on Jan 30 and directed that the

ballot papers

, some of which were allegedly defaced by the returning officer leading to BJP unexpectedly winning 16-12 after invalidation of eight votes of the AAP-Congress coalition, be placed before it.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra directed that the ballot papers and videography of the polling, which were taken custody of by Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana high court on its order, be brought before it on Tuesday when it would examine the paper and take a call. The court was of the opinion that if all ballot papers are secured and intact the result could be declared on that basis.
Though AAP candidate Kuldeep Kumar in his petition pleaded for fresh election but advocate general of Punjab and senior advocate Gurminder Singh submitted that all the ballot papers were still valid and the result could be declared on that basis by removing the defacement allegedly done by the returning officer Anil Masih. He also mentioned that some “interesting development” had taken place since the last hearing and told the bench that “horse trading” happened. Responding to his submission, the CJI said in lighter vein “we also read newspapers”. But at the end of the hearing the bench expressed concern saying that the whole business of horse trading was very serious.
SC quizzes Chd RO, threatens prosecution if he’s not truthful

Supreme Court Monday quizzed returning officer Anil Masih, who has been accused of defacing ballot papers in the Chandigarh mayoral election leading to a BJP win.
“Mr Masih, I am asking you questions. If you are not giving a truthful answer, you will be prosecuted. This is a serious matter. We have seen the video. What were you doing looking at the camera putting out crosses on the ballot papers? Why were you putting marks on ballot papers?” the bench asked.

As the court pointed out that it was very evident from the video that he was putting X marks on certain ballot papers, Masih admitted he had indeed put marks on eight ballot papers but clarified that he did so as those papers were already defaced. The court thereafter called for ballot papers to be examined and passed the order.
Advocate general of Punjab and senior advocate Gurminder Singh mentioned that an “interesting development” had taken place since the last hearing and told SC “horse trading” happened. CJI responded in a lighter vein, “we also read newspapers”. At the end of the hearing, the bench expressed concern on the “whole business of horse trading”.
Appearing for Chandigarh administration, solicitor general Tushar Mehta opposed the submission that the result be declared on basis of votes cast and urged the court to order fresh polls to be conducted by a returning officer appointed by it.
At the last hearing, the court had slammed RO Masih, observing that the election “was a mockery of democracy” and accused him of murdering democracy. “Is this the behaviour of an RO? He looks at the camera, defaces the ballot… Please tell your RO SC is watching over him,” CJI had said.

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