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Supreme Court orders recount of Chandigarh Mayor polls, says 8 'marked' invalidated votes to be counted

BJP won the Chandigarh mayoral polls on January 30 defeating the comfortably placed AAP-Congress alliance candidate after the returning officer declared eight votes invalid of the coalition partners, drawing accusations of tampering with ballots.

Reported By : Gonika Arora Edited By : Hritika Mitra
New Delhi
Updated on: February 20, 2024 15:19 IST
Returning Officer Anil Masih
Image Source : PTI Returning Officer Anil Masih

In a big win for Aam Aadmi Party, the Supreme Court on Tuesday took into note that all invalidated eight ballots have votes cast in favour of the AAP Mayor Candidate Kuldeep Kumar. It also directed that the votes at the poll shall be recounted and these eight shall be treated as valid. Thereafter, results be declared based on that, the Court observed.

Manoj Sonkar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defeated Kuldeep Kumar after polling 16 votes against his rival's 12 to bag the mayor's post. Sonkar, however, resigned subsequently, while three AAP councillors defected to the BJP.

Pulling up Returning Officer Anil Masih, CJI showed the ballots to the lawyers and observed that all eight had received the stamp for Kuldeep Kumar, AAP’s councillor, and the votes were cast for him. "What the Returning Officer Anil Masih does is, he puts a single line. Yesterday he told the Supreme court that he put the lines because the ballot papers were defaced. Where is the ballot paper defaced?"

Masih has been accused of defacing eight ballot papers that were declared invalid. Earlier, the returning officer admitted to putting ‘X’ marks on the eight ballot papers to ensure they do not get mixed.

The top court had rapped the returning officer also on February 5, observing it was obvious that he had defaced the ballot papers and that he should be prosecuted, adding his action amounted to "murder" and "mockery" of democracy.

Defeated AAP mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar has moved the top court challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court order which refused to grant any interim relief to the party which sought a fresh poll.

The apex court was also critical of the Punjab and Haryana High Court not passing any interim order. The AAP leader contended the alliance had 20 votes in the civic body as against 16 of the BJP and that eight ballots of the alliance were rendered invalid by defacing them.

ALSO READ | Chandigarh Mayor polls: SC orders prosecution of returning officer, says 'interfered with election'

ALSO READ | AAP shares new video of presiding officer 'tampering' with ballot papers in Chandigarh Mayoral Polls


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