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Chandigarh mayor election: Supreme Court declares AAP-Congress candidate Kuldeep Kumar as winner

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared AAP-Congress mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar as the winner in Chandigarh Mayor election. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra passed the verdict after it dismissed Returning Officer Anil Masih’s explanation on why he had declared the eight votes of the AAP candidate to be invalid.

The court observed that the counting of the 8 votes which were considered invalid will make the AAP candidate Kuldeep Kumar have 20 votes. Mentioning that the election result by the Returning Officer is quashed, the bench declared the AAP candidate to be the winner.  

The Supreme Court also strongly deprecated the conduct of Returning Officer Anil Masih. The court noted that the officer unlawfully altered the course of the mayoral election and that he had made a statement before the Court that was a patent falsehood. The court therefore issued a show cause notice to Masih.

The court ordered that Masih could not have been unmindful of making a statement which was false. It directed Registrar Judicial to show-cause Anil Masih as to why steps should not be initiated against him under Section 340, CrPC related to Section 195 which deals with ‘Prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of public servants’. The court further remarked that Anil Masih shall have an opportunity to file a reply to the show cause notice. 

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by AAP Councillor Kuldeep Kumar who alleged fraud in Returning Officer Masih’s decision to declare Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Manoj Sonkar as the Chandigarh Mayor on January 30. Manoj Sonkar was declared to have won the Mayor elections on January 30 on the strength of 16 votes against the 12 votes received by the Congress-AAP candidate, Kuldeep Kumar.

The result was declared despite the fact that the AAP-Congress alliance had a majority in the house with 20 members. A total of 36 votes were cast of which 8 votes were rejected in the counting process as invalid.

Initially, AAP councillor Kuldeep Kumar challenged the Mayor poll results before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. After the High Court declined to stay the election results, he moved a plea before the Supreme Court.

While the matter was pending before the top court, the BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar resigned from the post of Mayor on Monday and three AAP Councillors defected to the BJP.

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