The Supreme Court, on Monday, emphatically conveyed its commitment to safeguarding democracy in the face of alleged malpractices during the mayoral polls of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (CMC). The stern message was directed at the returning officer responsible for overseeing the elections.
During the hearing of a petition filed by Kuldeep Kumar, the mayoral candidate from the INDIA bloc, who accused the Presiding Officer of engaging in fraudulent activities during the counting process, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud led a bench in expressing their concern. In no uncertain terms, the Chief Justice conveyed, "Please inform your returning officer that the Supreme Court is closely monitoring his actions."
After a careful review of the CCTV footage submitted on a pendrive by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor, the bench, including Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, voiced their dismay, stating, "This is a mockery of democracy. He is subverting democracy. Is this the conduct expected of a returning officer, defacing the ballots while looking into the camera?"
The bench did not mince words in asserting, "It is evident that he defaced the ballots. This individual must face legal consequences."
Following the Punjab and Haryana High Court's refusal to intervene in the election results held on January 30 for the Mayor's post, AAP and Congress's joint candidate Kuldeep Kumar sought redress in the Supreme Court. In his plea before the high court, he alleged a complete deviation from established practices and rules, asserting that the presiding officer had denied party nominees the opportunity to monitor the vote counting process. Kuldeep Kumar appealed for fresh elections conducted in a transparent manner, under the supervision of a retired High Court judge.
(With Agency Inputs)