The Delhi Chief Electoral Officer on Tuesday rejected allegations that the nomination process of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was being 'deliberately delayed', saying a set procedure has been followed.
The Returning Officer took such a long time due to the rush of candidates on the last day of filing nomination papers, they said.
The response from the Delhi CEO Office, in the form of a statement, came in the evening, hours after a number of Aam Aadmi Party leaders alleged that around 35 candidates with incomplete set of papers were insisting that they would not allow the chief minister to file his nomination unless their nominations were filed.
According to the statement, the CEO Office has received some information through social media that nomination process of the chief minister for New Delhi constituency was 'being deliberately delayed' by the Returning Officer and was taking 30-35 minutes to check the nomination of one candidate 'just to delay' the process and make the chief minister wait unnecessarily.
'It is hereby clarified that the information is misleading and there was no deliberate delay on the part of the election machinery,' the statement read.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had earlier in a tweet tagging the Bharatiya Janata Party, said, 'No matter how much you conspire, you will not be able to stop Kejriwal from filing his nomination or from becoming the chief minister for the third time.'
'Your conspiracies will not yield any result,' he said earlier in the day as Kejriwal waited to file his nomination. He is the sitting MLA of New Delhi seat -- Assembly Constituency - 40.
The CEO office responded, saying, "As far as nomination process in AC-40, New Delhi, is concerned, it is stated that today was the last date, till 3 PM, for receiving the nomination forms, and there was a huge rush of aspiring candidates (total 66) who presented before the RO today to file their nomination."
"In view of the huge rush on the last day, the nomination process has taken time, beyond 3 pm and the same is allowed as per the law," it added.
There is a set procedure to be adopted and followed by the returning officer while receiving nominations from candidates.
"There is a provision in Section 33 of the Representation of the People Act that one candidate can file four sets of nomination papers, and there are certain supporting documents including affidavit in Form-26 which have to be scrupulously checked as per the provisions of the election laws and rules," the CEO Office said.
A returning officer must follow all the prescribed procedures as per the law 'without compromising with the accuracy because any mistake in a hurried manner may vitiate the election process', it said.
On the last day of filing of nomination papers, a large number of candidates including Kejriwal filed their papers. With a long queue Jamnagar House the officer of the New Delhi returning officer, Kejriwal had to wait for over six hours for his turn.
Scrutiny of papers will take place on Wednesday and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is January 24. Elections are due on February 8 and counting of votes will be done on February 11.
According to the final electoral roll, over 1.46 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise in the upcoming polls.