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Chandigarh Mayor Election | Supreme Court Slams Chandigarh Returning Officer, says Murder Of Democracy

New Delhi, 05-02-2024 : Supreme Court Chief Justice DY Chandrachud delivered scathing remarks on Monday during the hearing of petitions challenging the Chandigarh mayor elections, expressing strong disapproval of the conduct of the Returning Officer. The Chief Justice criticized the apparent defacement of ballot papers, denouncing it as a mockery and murder of democracy. He went on to suggest that the Returning Officer should face prosecution for such behavior, questioning the integrity of the election process.

The controversy stemmed from the declaration by the returning officer that eight votes, initially cast for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), were deemed invalid, resulting in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) securing the mayor post. In response, the AAP lodged a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

In response to the situation, the Supreme Court issued a series of directives, including the preservation of the entire election record, encompassing ballot papers, videography, and other relevant material. The Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was mandated to oversee this process. Furthermore, the top court ordered the deferment of the upcoming meeting of the Chandigarh Corporation until the next date of the hearing, signaling the gravity of the allegations and the need for a thorough examination of the electoral proceedings.

The background of the dispute revolves around the BJP’s victory in the mayoral elections, where candidate Manoj Sonkar secured 16 out of 35 votes. The Congress and AAP’s mayoral candidate Kuldeep Singh garnered 12 votes, while eight votes were controversially declared invalid. The AAP raised concerns of foul play, emphasizing that this marked the first time in Chandigarh mayoral elections that eight votes were invalidated. AAP MP Raghav Chadha underscored the disparity, noting that not a single vote for the BJP was declared invalid, fueling suspicions of potential irregularities in the electoral process. The legal battle now ensues as the Supreme Court takes a stern stance on the preservation of evidence and the deferment of further proceedings until a thorough examination is conducted.