After the Gujarat High Court invalidated the election of state minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama from the Dholka assembly seat in 2017, the Election Commission on Tuesday set up a three-member committee to study the order and put up its findings before the poll panel.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, who is in the US, discussed the issue with EC Secretary-General Umesh Sinha and decided to set up the three-member committee of officers to study judgment, an official statement said. The committee will be put across its findings before the commission at the earliest, it said.
CEC Sunil Arora said that the three-member committee headed by Umesh Sinha, Secretary-General and consisting of two officers, Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Deputy Election Commission and Director Law as members will examine the details.
Chudasama had won by a thin margin and the candidate who lost had filed an election petition before the Gujarat High Court alleging corrupt practice. The EC had already asked the Gujarat government to initiate disciplinary action against the then returning officer Dhaval Jani. Jani was also removed from election duties during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in view of the interim order of the High Court.
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday declared state minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama's election in 2017 as void on the grounds of malpractices and manipulation. The returning officer was "hand in gloves" with the BJP leader and postal ballots were rejected illegally, it said.
Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod had challenged his BJP rival's victory from Dholka constituency by a margin of mere 327 votes in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls. Justice Paresh Upadhyay also rejected Chudasama's request for a stay so that he could file an appeal.
The High Court held that Returning Officer Dhaval Jani "illegally rejected" 429 postal ballots during the counting of votes, while the victory margin was only 327. The procedure adopted for counting of votes was "against the orders of the Election Commission of India (EC)" and illegal, Justice Upadhyay said.
Chudasama is currently the minister for education, law and justice, legislative and parliamentary affairs and some other departments in the Vijay Rupani government. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said the decision will be challenged in the Supreme Court.
(With agency inputs)