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Returning Officer in Chandigarh Mayor election reaches Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Returning Officer in Chandigarh Mayor election Anil Masih reached the Supreme Court as the top court ordered him to appear before it while observing that he defaced the ballots in the election.
Earlier on Sunday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manoj Sonkar resigned from the post of Chandigarh Mayor, a day ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on allegations of irregularities in the vote-counting process.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Returning Officer who held the Chandigarh Mayor elections, saying he was "murdering democracy" and ordered the preservation of the entire record of the election process, including ballot papers, videography and other material, through the Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said it is obvious that the returning officer has defaced the ballot papers.
"Is this the way he conducts the elections? This is a mockery of democracy. This is the murder of democracy. We are appalled. We will not allow democracy to be murdered this way. The man defaces ballots the moment he sees a cross at the bottom. This man should be prosecuted. Is this the behaviour of the returning officer?"
It directed that the meeting of the Chandigarh Corporation slated to be held on February 7 be deferred till further orders.
"Tell the Returning Officer that the Supreme Court is watching him. We will not allow democracy to be murdered like this. The great force in this country is the purity of the electoral process, but what has happened here?" said the bench.
The observations of the apex court came after it watched video of the controversial election.
The apex court's remarks came while hearing the plea of AAP's councillor after the BJP won the mayor election following the Returning Officer's move to scrape eight opposition votes.
BJP's Sonkar bagged 16 votes against the 12 votes received by Kumar, despite having 20 councillors. The action of rejecting eight votes of the AAP-Congress alliance as invalid had sparked allegations of vote tempering.

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