Supreme Court History: Ballot Papers Counted In Court, Judges Announce Result

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court made history today, ordering the last step of Chandigarh’s Mayoral election in the courtroom and witnessing the counting of votes. At the end of it, Aam Aadmi Party’s Kuldeep Kumar was declared the Mayor by the judges.  

A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud — which examined the ballot papers this morning and slammed the Returning Officer who invalidated eight votes by defacing them — refused to leave the subsequent part of the electoral process to the authorities.

The BJP appeal that a fresh election be called was also turned down.

This court is “duty bound to ensure that the democratic process is not set at naught by such subterfuges,” the judges said.

“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 bench added.

After the counting, the judges said, “The petitioner is declared to be the validly elected candidate for the post of Mayor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation,” before ordered legal proceedings against the erring poll official.

Anil Masih faces the possibility of contempt of court. He has to show cause within three weeks why action should not be taken against him.

The results overturned the BJP victory declared at the end of the hugely controversial election in January, which was challenged by the AAP candidate.

A video of the counting, where the Returning Officer was seen defacing eight ballot papers while glancing at the room’s CCTV camera, proved the clincher.

The furious judges called it “murder of democracy” and took the matter in their hands. “⁠It is clearly visible in the video that he is looking into the camera and defacing the ballot paper… Legal action should be taken against this officer,” the Chief Justice of India said.

The BJP had swept the mayoral polls, in a setback to the AAP-Congress alliance, which had claimed the election was an acid test for the INDIA bloc. But last evening, BJP Mayor Manoj Sonkar stepped down from the post.

The Supreme Court move, though, could be a temporary reprieve for AAP, whose three councillors have defected to the BJP.

Slamming the BJP for “dictatorship going on inside the country”, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said, “all the institutions are being crushed… hence this decision of the Supreme Court is very important”.

“The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision on the farcical election for the Chandigarh Mayor will go a long way to save Indian democracy. The entire election process was a complete farce, which has been duly exposed with this historic verdict!” Congress’s KC Venugopal posted on X, formerly Twitter.