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Oppn leaders welcome SC verdict declaring AAP councillor as Chandigarh Mayor

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Oppn leaders welcome SC verdict declaring AAP councillor as Chandigarh Mayor

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Setting aside the election of the BJP candidate as declared by the Returning Officer, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared AAP councillor Kuldeep Kumar as the Mayor of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation while hearing a plea challenging the mayoral election.

The Opposition INDIA bloc leaders were quick to latch on to the top court ruling, stating that the Constitution and democracy have ultimately triumphed.

Taking to X, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said: “The Supreme Court has saved democracy from the fangs of an autocratic BJP, which resorted to dirty election manipulation. The institutional sabotage in the #ChandigarhMayorPolls is only a tip of the iceberg in Modi-Shah’s devious conspiracy to trample democracy.

“All Indians must fight this onslaught on our Constitution, collectively. Never forget. Our democracy shall be at the crossroads in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections!”

Reacting to the development, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said: “Now no one will trust the BJP, which was caught stealing red-handed in the Chandigarh mayoral elections.”

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Welcoming the top court verdict, AAP National Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Truth may be troubled but not defeated. The Constitution and democracy ultimately won the Chandigarh Mayor elections. Many thanks to the Honorable Supreme Court.

“Kuldeep Kumar is a boy from a poor family. On behalf of INDIA bloc, many congratulations on becoming the Mayor of Chandigarh. This became possible only because of Indian democracy and the Honorable Supreme Court. We have to preserve the impartiality of our democracy and autonomous institutions at any cost.”

The apex court was dealing with a plea filed by INDIA bloc’s mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar accusing Returning Officer Anil Masih of allegedly ‘defacing the ballots’ during the Chandigarh mayoral polls held on January 30.

Kumar had accused the Returning Officer of resorting to fraud and forgery in the counting process.

“Setting aside the election process itself would not be proper since the issue is only when the Returning Officer made the counting,” a bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra observed.

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The court also ordered prosecution of Returning Officer Masih for ‘misdemeanour’.

“It is evident that Anil Masih is guilty of serious misdemeanour for deliberately defacing eight ballot papers. He must be held accountable,” the CJI said.

Contempt proceedings have been initiated against Masih.

–IANS

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