Horse trading is taking place: CJI Chandrachud on Chandigarh mayoral polls

A bench headed by chief justice D.Y. Chandrachud directs city administration to provide security to judicial officer in charge of the records

CJI DY Chandrachud (photo: IANS)
CJI DY Chandrachud (photo: IANS)


Observing that "horse-trading is taking place", the Supreme Court has said it will review the ballot papers of the Chandigarh mayoral polls and the entire video recording of the counting day on Tuesday, and directed the registrar general of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to depute a judicial officer to bring the records safely to Delhi.

On 5 February, the court had pulled up returning officer Anil Masih, who conducted the mayoral polls, observing that it was obvious that he had defaced the ballot papers and should be prosecuted, adding that his action amounted to a "murder" and "mockery" of democracy.

A bench headed by chief justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Chandigarh administration on Monday to provide security to the judicial officer, to be appointed by the high court, to ensure the safety of the officer and the records. "We ourselves will look at the records at 2.00 pm," the bench, also comprising justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

"Horse-trading is taking place," the CJI said, declining a plea that the case on the mayoral polls be heard on some other day instead of Tuesday.

Masih appeared before the bench in pursuance of the apex court's direction, and was questioned by the judges over the alleged tampering of certain ballot papers.

Replying to the judges' questions, Masih said he did put the "X" mark on eight already "defaced" ballot papers and accused Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillors of creating a ruckus and trying to snatch the papers. He said due to this, he was looking at the CCTV camera at the counting centre.

Earlier, the top court had come down heavily on the returning officer, observing that it was obvious that he had defaced the ballot papers and that he should be prosecuted.

One of the AAP councillors, Kuldeep Kumar, has moved the top court challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that has refused to grant any interim relief to the party, which is seeking fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Chandigarh mayoral polls against the Congress-AAP alliance on 30 January. Manoj Sonkar of the BJP defeated the AAP's Kuldeep Kumar for the mayor's post, polling 16 votes against his rival's 12. Eight votes were declared invalid.

However, Sonkar resigned from the post hours before the fresh elections were scheduled to be held today.

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