The Supreme Court issued a directive on Monday, instructing that all ballot papers and related original records, including videography, pertaining to the Chandigarh mayor elections, be handed over to the registrar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court expressed strong concern over the alleged defacement of ballot papers by the returning officer, stating that such actions amounted to an assault on democracy. The notice was issued in response to a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party’s councillor Kuldeep Dhalor, who contested and lost the mayor election to Bharatiya Janata Party’s Manoj Sonkar.
Describing the situation as a mockery of democracy, the Supreme Court also ordered the postponement of the scheduled Chandigarh Municipal Corporation meeting on February 7. The court’s intervention follows the recent victory of the BJP in the mayor election, which raised suspicions of vote tampering after the presiding officer invalidated eight opposition votes.
Manoj Sonkar secured the mayor’s post by polling 16 votes against Kuldeep Kumar’s 12, with eight votes declared invalid. In response to the controversy, the AAP staged a protest against the BJP, demanding the arrest of the presiding officer for alleged tampering with ballot papers.
AAP councillors, led by the party’s Chandigarh co-incharge Sunny Ahluwalia, held a sit-in protest outside the municipal corporation office. Ahluwalia emphasized that the protest was against the BJP, whom they referred to as ‘vote chor’ (vote thief), and reiterated their demand for the arrest of Presiding Officer Anil Masih. The AAP stated that the protest would continue until Masih is apprehended, and what they deemed a “fake” mayor is removed.
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections were closely watched, with the Congress and AAP anticipating an easy victory for their alliance in the 35-member body. The results were considered an early test for the opposition bloc in India ahead of the Lok Sabha election.