SC's ‘murder of democracy’ remarks on Chandigarh mayor polls give ammo to Oppn | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Supreme Court's ‘murder of democracy’ remarks on Chandigarh mayor polls give ammo to Oppn

Feb 05, 2024 08:10 PM IST

The Supreme Court scoffed at the returning officer of the Chandigarh mayor elections for “defacing ballots” and making a “mockery of democracy”.

The Opposition leaders on Monday seized upon the scathing observations by the Supreme Court on the controversial proceedings of the Chandigarh mayoral elections.

Chandigarh BJP MP Kirron Kher along with party councillors congratulating newly elected mayor Manoj Sonkar. (ANI)
Chandigarh BJP MP Kirron Kher along with party councillors congratulating newly elected mayor Manoj Sonkar. (ANI)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Manoj Sonkar won the Chandigarh mayor election by polling 16 votes against his rival's 12 after the presiding officer invalidated eight votes.

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A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud expressed shock over the video of the electoral proceedings and said the returning officer, prima facie, was "defacing" the ballot papers.

The court directed the entire election record, including the ballot papers and videography, to be sealed and preserved with the registrar of the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Going through the video, the bench remarked, “It is obvious. He has defaced the ballots. This man has to be prosecuted. This is a mockery of democracy. He is murdering democracy. Is this the way an officer has to conduct elections. We are appalled by his conduct.”

The bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said, “The only stabilising thing in a democracy is the purity of our election process. And what is happening here. We will not allow democracy to be murdered,” as it issued notice on a petition filed by AAP councillor and mayoral candidate Kuldeep Dhalor.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) welcomed the observations saying it is because of such decisions that people's "hopes are pinned on the legal system".

"The AAP-Congress combined had achieved 20 votes while the BJP got 16 votes. However, the person in charge invalidated eight votes. It has never happened in our democracy. For the first time, the act was recorded in cameras," AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sandeep Pathak told PTI.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the court's observations show that “democracy was murdered”, asserting that people will give a befitting reply.

"The BJP is crushing democracy to suppress the voice of the people, this is now in front of the people of the country. Only the public will give a befitting answer to this," the Congress general secretary said in a post in Hindi on 'X'.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav called for strong action against the returning officer as well as those above him.

“The truth is that such action should be taken against all the officers and those in power above that officer, which will be seen by the officers and corrupt rulers of the entire country and their hands should be stopped before they do anything wrong,” Yadav said in a post in Hindi.

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