SC Declares AAP’s Kuldeep Kumar As Winner Of Chandigarh Mayor Election

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared AAP candidate Kuldeep Kumar as the winner of the Chandigarh mayoral election by treating eight ‘invalid’ ballots as valid.

While hearing a petition on alleged vote tampering during the polls, a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra examined the ballot papers and said they had not been defaced.

“This court is duty bound to ensure that the democratic process is not set at naught by such subterfuges. We are therefore of the view that the Court must step in such exceptional circumstances to ensure that the basic democratic mandate is ensured… The petitioner is declared to be the validly elected candidate for the post of Mayor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation,” the court ordered.

The SC also directed issuance of a show cause notice to returning officer Anil Masih, who allegedly defaced 8 votes cast in favour of AAP, ensuring the victory of the BJP nominee.

Masih was caught on camera marking ballot papers after the mayoral polls on January 30. The relevant part of the video was also replayed in the court after the bench examined ballot papers that were declared invalid. “Let all of them see the video. A little entertainment is good for everybody!” the Chief Justice quipped.

The top court further noted that the conduct of the presiding officer unlawfully altered the course of mayoral election. “In making a solemn statement before this Court on 19 Feb, he also expressed falsehood for which he must be held accountable. For the above reasons, we have come to the conclusion that the results declared by the presiding officer are unlawful and have to be set aside. We order accordingly,” it further said.

In response to the court’s directive, AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated, “Thank you SC for saving democracy in these difficult times!”

Manoj Sonkar of BJP had defeated Kuldeep Kumar after polling 16 votes against his rival’s 12 to bag the mayor’s post. He however, resigned subsequently, while three AAP councillors defected to the BJP.

Speaking to ANI, Kuldeep Kumar said: “This is the victory of truth. Democracy has been kept alive. I am very thankful for that…I thank all the leaders and the INDIA Alliance that voted for me. BJP will be exposed just like they were exposed here and they will face defeat everywhere…”

He also hoped that 3 councillors, who had joined BJP, would return to AAP fold.

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