The Election Commission on Friday rejected Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav's vote in the Presidential poll and directed the Returning Officer (RO) not to count it as the secrecy of the ballot had been violated.
"The issue of second ballot paper to Mulayam Singh Yadav was not warranted under rule 15 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974. Therefore, the second ballot paper issued to Yadav may not be taken up for counting," the Commission said.
The poll panel also directed the RO that the first ballot paper issued to Yadav cannot be counted as its secrecy was violated.
In a faux pas, Yadav had on Thursday cast his vote in favour of BJP-backed candidate P A Sangma instead of UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee but realised his mistake to make a correction.
Yadav, who was among the early voters, after marking his vote for Sangma, tore the ballot paper and sought a fresh one from the polling officer, according to sources.
The SP chief then marked his correct preference on the fresh ballot paper. The ballot paper carrying the incorrect entry made by Yadav was deposited with the polling officer, the sources said.
The Sangma camp had lodged a complaint with the RO, V K Agnihotri, who is the Lok Sabha Secretary General, and sought cancellation of the second ballot paper issued to Yadav.
Sangma's authorised representative Satya Pal Jain had filed a written complaint with the RO contending Yadav was not entitled to second ballot paper under the law. Agnihotri had later written to the EC on the issue alongwith Jain's complaint.
Seeking cancellation of Yadav's vote, Jain, in his written complaint, had objected to the grant of second ballot paper to the SP chief, saying he is "not entitled to another one (ballot)" under the law.
Agnihotri had said one elector had approached him with a torn ballot paper and as per rules he was issued a fresh ballot paper.
"Yes, one elector approached me with a ballot paper in a torn condition and, therefore, as per the rules which provide for issue of a fresh ballot paper in case a ballot paper is not in a position to be used as a ballot paper, I can issue a fresh ballot paper," he had said.
Welcoming the decision, Jain said, "The hands of the law are strong and long enough for any person howsoever high he may be."
The SP had backed Mukherjee after giving the ruling UPA some anxious moments as Yadav had initially teamed up with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and proposed the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former President A P J Abdul Kalam as possible candidates for the 14th Presidential election. He had later announced his support to Mukherjee.
The vote value of an MP is 708 out of a total vote value of 10,98,882. Counting of votes will take place on July 22.