"We will not allow democracy to be murdered like this," the Supreme Court, on Monday, February 5, told the returning officer appointed for mayoral polls of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (CMC). Hearing a plea filed by INDIA bloc’s mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar – who had accused the Presiding Officer of resorting to fraud and forgery in the counting process, a bench presided over by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, in strong terms, said, "Please tell your returning officer that there is a Supreme Court watching over him."
After perusal of the CCTV footage given in the pendrive by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor, the bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said, "This is a mockery of democracy. He is murdering democracy. Is this the behaviour of a returning officer, who looks at the camera and defaces the ballot? It is obvious that he defaced the ballots. This man has to be prosecuted."
Representatives of both AAP and Congress had shared visuals of presiding officer Anil Masih using a pen on many votes, which they claim was deliberately done to invalidate some of the ballots cast.
AAP and Congress’s joint candidate Kuldeep Kumar has petitioned the top court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court refused to stay the election results held on January 30 for the post of Mayor. In his petition before the high court, he alleged complete departure of the practice and rules saying that the presiding officer refused to allow the nominees of parties to monitor the counting of votes. He prayed for fresh elections in a free and fair manner under the supervision of a retired High Court judge.
(With IANS inputs)