In a big decision on Friday, the Supreme Court has stayed Gujarat High Court's order which had nullified the election of BJP leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on the grounds of malpractice and manipulation. The apex court has also issued Notice. The Gujarat High Court on May 12 invalidated the election of state minister Chudasama from the Dholka assembly seat in 2017, after which he moved SC. An SC bench comprising of Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and R. Subhash Reddy declared the verdict. Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Tuesday set up a three-member committee to study the order and put up its findings before the poll panel.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal showed that the official declaration of result says zero votes were rejected, and argued at the collusion between returning officer and the BJP candidate. Appearing for Chudasama, senior advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Harish Salve refuted the claims and said that election process are very rigorous in the present time.
The Gujarat High Court in its order said that the returning officer was "hand in gloves" with the BJP leader and postal ballots were rejected illegally. The HC had also rejected Chudasama's request for a stay so that he could file an appeal. As per HC's verdict, the Returning Officer Dhaval Jani "illegally rejected" 429 postal ballots during the counting of votes. The procedure adopted for counting of votes was "against the orders of the Election Commission of India (EC)" and illegal, the HC said.
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CEC Sunil Arora had 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. 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.
Bhupendrasinh Chudasama defeated Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod by a margin of mere 327 votes in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls. The Congress leader had then challenged his victory from Dholka constituency. Chudasama is currently the minister for education, law and justice, legislative and parliamentary affairs and some other departments in CM Vijay Rupani's Gujarat government.