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Chandigarh mayoral polls: You will be prosecuted, SC warns officer

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
February 19, 2024 21:46 IST
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The Supreme Court on Monday posed searching questions to returning officer Anil Masih, who conducted the Chandigarh mayoral polls, and said he will be prosecuted in case of any falsehood and that putting a mark on ballot papers cannot be allowed in an electoral democracy.

IMAGE: AAP supporters engage in a scuffle with police personnel as they protest against the BJP over the Chandigarh mayor election issue, near the AAP office, in New Delhi, February 2, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, which said it would peruse on Tuesday the ballot papers of the mayoral polls and the video-recording of the counting day, quizzed Masih over why he put the "X" mark on some ballot papers.


"This is a very serious matter.... In case of any falsehood, you will be prosecuted," the bench, also comprising justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, told Masih.

"Why were you looking into the camera and putting the 'X' mark on the ballot papers?" the CJI asked.

The returning officer said, "All the ballot papers were defaced. I was just marking those. There were so many cameras that I was just looking at those."

The bench told Masih that it was clear that he was putting the "X" mark on the ballot papers.

Masih admitted putting the "X" mark on eight ballot papers to ensure that those do not get mixed with the other ballot papers.

The bench asked, "You can sign the ballot papers, but why were you putting 'X' on those ballot papers?"

It pointed out that under the relevant rules, the returning officer can only sign the ballot papers.

"It means, you marked it," the CJI said, adding that Masih has to be prosecuted and this cannot be allowed in an electoral democracy.

The bench directed Masih to remain present in the court on Tuesday as well.

The Bharatiya Janata Party swept the Chandigarh mayoral polls on January 30, retaining all three posts, in a setback to the Congress-AAP alliance that alleged tampering with ballot papers by the presiding officer.

Manoj Sonkar of the BJP defeated Kuldeep Kumar of the Aam Aadmi Party, polling 16 votes against his rival's 12 to bag the mayor's post. Eight votes were declared invalid.
However, Sonkar resigned from the post subsequently. Three AAP councillors have also defected to the BJP.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024