Supreme Court Reviewing Chandigarh Mayoral Election: CJI Warns Returning Officer; New Hearing Today

Today, there will be a second hearing in the Supreme Court regarding the Chandigarh Mayor election. Yesterday, the court had requested all ballot papers and videos related to the Delhi Mayor election. CJI DY Chandrachud stated that they will scrutinize the ballot papers, which have been subject to allegations of irregularities.

The Returning Officer, Anil Masih, has been summoned to appear in court. Furthermore, the court had ordered to make public the basis for organizing the upcoming mayoral election, based on the current ballot papers instead. They mentioned they will provide guidance on whether the vote counting in the mayoral election ignored the cross-marks made by the Presiding Officer, Anil Masih, with a pen.

The Supreme Court has instructed the High Court’s Registrar General to appoint a judicial officer to bring the ballot papers and videos to the court on Tuesday. The court had issued arrangements for the protection of judicial officers and records to ensure the preservation of evidence. The court will examine the complete video and ballot papers of the election this afternoon at 2 o’clock.

Dialogue Between CJI and Anil Masih in the Courtroom

Dialogue Between CJI and Anil Masih in the Courtroom

CJI: We asked Mr. Masih whether you have correctly marked the ballot papers according to the rules.

Masih: The ballot papers that were spoiled needed to be separated, and I was doing just that. There were so many cameras around that I was just watching them.

CJI: Is it evident from the video that you were putting cross-marks? Why did you do that and how many ballot papers did you do it on?

Masih: I did so in a way that would allow us to identify the spoiled papers later, and I did it on 8 ballot papers. The candidates had torn off the ballots, so I marked them with a cross. That’s why I put cross-marks.

CJI: You were interfering in the election process. What were you doing tampering with the ballot papers? Your job was only to mark on paper. Where in the rules does it say that you can put other marks on the ballot paper? Mr. Solicitor, we need to proceed with your actions. We will instruct the District Deputy Commissioner to appoint a new Returning Officer and announce the results after recounting the marks on the ballot papers disregarding the ones you put. The entire process should be under the supervision of the High Court.

Live from the Courtroom…

CJI: (to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta) Has the Mayor resigned from his position?

Solicitor General: Yes, resignation has been tendered taking into account the criticisms surrounding this election. He requests the court to appoint a new Returning Officer in this case.

CJI: How many votes are there in the ballot papers?

Applicant Kuldeep Kumar: 36. We feared that this entire matter could be compromised. After the case came to court, this concern has also arisen.

Solicitor General: His application demands that the election should be conducted again, which is not appropriate.

CJI: Horse trading is a serious matter. We are concerned about this issue. However, we believe that the results of the Chandigarh Mayor’s election should be announced based on the current votes rather than holding new elections.

Applicant: Our argument is that whether the marking by the Returning Officer invalidates the ballot paper? No, it should not be done, and we also believe that instead of holding new elections, the counting of the current ballot papers should be done, and the results should be announced. A new Returning Officer should be appointed.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh: (raising hand) These rules cannot be violated.

Solicitor General: Some ballot papers were torn and attempted to be tampered with. The High Court is asked to see these ballot papers.

Applicant: Only those 8 ballot papers need to be seen, and they are not torn.

Solicitor General: All ballot papers should be examined for impartiality. The court should be asked to see the video to verify the truthfulness of the Returning Officer’s submissions.

Election officer Anil Masih (left) seated Manoj Sonkar, who ran, on the mayor's chair as soon as the counting of votes was announced.

BJP’s Mayoral Victory Amid Controversy Over Invalid Votes

On January 30th, the mayoral election took place in Chandigarh. For the first time, AAP and Congress contested the election together under the banner of I.N.D.I.A., with one Member of Parliament and 35 councilors voting. After the voting, the election officer Anil Masih declared the results, where BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar secured 16 votes.

Among them, BJP had the support of 14 councilors, one vote from Chandigarh’s BJP MP Kirron Kher, and one from the Akali Dal. Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party had 13 councilors, and Congress had 7 councilors who voted. However, the coalition candidate Kuldeep Tita received only 12 votes.

Election officer Anil Masih declared 8 votes for the coalition candidate invalid. Upon this, AAP and Congress alleged that Masih had invalidated these votes by marking them invalid.

Poonam Devi (left), Neha Musawat (second from left) and Gurcharanjit Singh Kala (right) joined the BJP in the presence of Chandigarh BJP former president Arun Sood (centre).

Changes in Political Dynamics with the Prospect of Fresh Elections

If there is a re-election, the political equations will undergo a significant change. After the inclusion of 3 councilors from AAP into the BJP, the dynamics of the municipal corporation will completely alter. BJP already has 15 votes, including one Member of Parliament. With the addition of AAP’s 3 councilors to the BJP, this figure rises to 18.

With the addition of a vote from the Akali Dal, this number will increase to 19. In such a scenario, if the Supreme Court decides to conduct the mayoral election again, BJP will likely elect its mayor with a full majority.

Mayor Resigns from Office

In a significant turn of events, Manoj Sonkar, who was elected as the mayor from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Chandigarh mayoral election, tendered his resignation late Sunday night. This decision came in the wake of the stern stance taken by the Supreme Court regarding the mayoral election. Sonkar submitted his resignation at the Commissioner’s residence, where the formalities of resignation were completed.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.