In a rap to the state election commission (SEC) and the civic commissioner, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC), on Friday, ordered that the changes made in the voter list of ward no. 71, allegedly at the behest of Congress candidate Vikas Thakre, be annulled.
The first preliminary electoral list for the ward was out on January 12 and objections were invited till January 17. The final voters’ list published on January 23 contained 32,416 voters. The petitioners -- Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Dilip Dive -- younger brother of Sudhir Dive, a close lieutenant Nitin Gadkari -- and Meenaxi Telgote -- claimed that the voters’ list was changed and manipulated by the returning officer of Laxmi Nagar, zone-I (ward no. 71) and the assistant returning officer on city municipal commissioner Sanjiv Jaiswal’s instructions. The leader of the Opposition, Thakre, allegedly called up Jaiswal and prompted him to shift 1,809 persons from ward no. 72 to 71 and 450 persons from ward no 71 to 72 on February 2, after the deadline. The petitioners have alleged that these changes have been made with a view to better Thakre's prospects in the election.
Seeking explanation on the laws for making changes in the voters’ list, division bench of justice PB Majumdar and justice PB Varale questioned as to how can changes be made on the basis of a telephonic request. The court has asked the civic chief and SEC to file their reply by February 13.