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Supreme Court Declares AAP Candidate Kuldeep Kumar Winner of Chandigarh Mayoral Election (PC:TOI)

Supreme Court Declares AAP Candidate Kuldeep Kumar Winner of Chandigarh Mayoral Election


New Delhi:  In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of India  declared AAP candidate Kuldeep Kumar as the winner of last month’s Chandigarh mayoral election. The apex court’s decision came after a thorough examination of eight ‘defaced’ ballot papers and video recordings of the counting process, challenging the initial victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The court reprimanded the returning officer, Anil Masih, for ‘contempt of court’ and ordered the eight invalidated ballots to be treated as valid. Consequently, the results initially declared by Masih were deemed invalid.

A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud stated that the invalidated ballots “shall be recounted, treated as valid,” and the results would be declared based on this recount.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court for “saving democracy.” Kejriwal, in a social media post, wrote, “Thank you, SC for saving democracy in these difficult times!”

The controversy arose when the BJP emerged victorious in the Chandigarh mayoral polls on January 30, defeating the AAP-Congress alliance candidate. The returning officer declared eight votes from the coalition partners as invalid, prompting accusations of ballot tampering.

Expressing concern over “horse-trading,” the Supreme Court had suggested on Monday that instead of ordering fresh polls, it might consider declaring results based on the already cast votes.

“We are deeply concerned about the horse-trading which is taking place,” Chief Justice DY Chandrachud remarked on Monday. The court directed the registrar general of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to send a judicial officer to safely bring the records to New Delhi for Tuesday’s hearing.

The court ordered the production of the ballot papers on Tuesday morning and directed Returning Officer Anil Masih to be present. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta proposed the idea of holding a fresh election supervised by a judicial officer, a suggestion met with opposition from AAP councillor and defeated mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar’s counsel.

The Supreme Court, leaning towards concluding the electoral process at its current stage, stated that the registrar general of the high court would nominate a judicial officer to oversee the ballot paper counting process, and the results would be declared based on this count.

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