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The Supreme Court today stayed the Gujarat High Court’s decision which declared the election of BJP Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma from Dholka Constituency in 2017, as null & void.

A bench comprising Justice M Shantanagoudar and Justice R Subhash Reddy was hearing a petition filed by Gujarat BJP Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma who has contended that the the Congress candidate Aswin Rathod who lost the elections has not led positive, reliable and cogent evidence to prove any of the issues. On May 12, the High Court declared Chudasama’s election in 2017 as void on grounds of malpractice and manipulation.

Senior Counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Harish Salve appeared for Chudasama today.

Harish Salve submitted that the petition in the High Court was judged on assumption and presumption and the Court should have called for the 429 votes and seen if they were rightly rejected. 

He further said that 429 was more than the victory margin but in that case the returning officer should have been examined.

“Moreover the transfer of officers were made under the instructions given by the Election Commisison and that does not establish the link between the minister and the Returning officer,”submitted Senior Counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal on the other hand submitted that the petitioners were not presenting the facts correctly, there were illegalities and manipulations in the petition.

He further submitted that though counting of votes had started with the EVM’s, but Postal ballots were not brought even till the 15th Round and all sorts of illegalities were carried out.

Sibal further points out that zero votes were rejected and “if they were never counted, how could they say zero rejected?

According to the Election Commissions instructions one has to count if victory margin less. In this case it was 327 votes. Postal ballots were 429 and hence there should be mandatory verification of postal ballots in this case, submitted Sibal.

The bench however staying the High Court order said that the Returning Officer gave reasons for rejecting the votes.

Sibal raising objections said since when have your Lordships stayed matters like this based on corrupt practices. The bench said that they have done so in many cases while issuing notice and put a stay on the High court order.

-India Legal Bureau

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