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The Supreme Court today stayed the Gujarat High Court verdict deeming the election of former state law minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama as void.
A Bench headed by Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar also issued notice in the plea filed by Chudasama against the High Court judgment passed on 12.
Senior Advocates Harish Salve and Neeraj Kishan Kaul appeared for Chudasama before the Supreme Court via video conferencing.
On May 13, just a day after the Gujarat High Court quashed his December 2017 election to the state's Legislative Assembly, Chudasama had moved the Supreme Court in appeal.
A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chudasama had been declared the winner of the December 2017 Gujarat State Assembly elections over Congress candidate Ashwinbhai Khamsubhai Rathod, by a margin of 327 votes.
In his appeal filed through Advocate EC Agrawala, Chudasama has contended that the "High Court has failed to appreciate the proper facts of the case and has reached a completely erroneous conclusion in holding the successful election of the Petitioner as illegal and void."
The appeal under Section-116A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has stated that the High Court did not consider that as far as illegal rejection of 429 postal ballots is concerned, Rule 54-A of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 clearly draws a distinction between postal ballot and vote.
Before the High Court, Rathod contested the validity of the election results, contending that 429 postal ballot papers had illegally been excluded from consideration during the vote count by Returning Officer Dhaval Jani. Rathod argued that election records were also tampered with to conceal this manipulation.
On May 12, Justice Paresh Upadhyay of the Gujarat High Court ruled in favour of Rathod on this count, holding,
"...it is proved that 429 postal ballot papers were illegally rejected/excluded from consideration by the Returning Officer at the time of counting of votes in the election in question, as against the victory margin of 327 votes."
While setting aside the election of Chudasama as being void under several provisions of the Representation of People Act, the High Court stated that the result of the election, insofar as it concerns Chudasama, has been materially affected by the "illegal rejection" of 429 votes.
When the matter was being heard in the Gujarat High Court, Congress leader Ashwin Rathod was represented by Advocate Sharvil P Majmudar.