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The Court found that 429 votes had been illegally excluded from the vote-count by the RO at the time, who was found to have been "hands in glove" with Chudasama.
The Gujarat High Court on Monday quashed the December 2017 election of Gujarat's Law Minister, Bhupendrasinh Manubha Chudasama to the State's Legislative Assembly as violative of the Representation of People's Act, 1951.
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 with a margin of 327 votes.
Rathod, in turn, contested the validity of the election results before the Gujarat High Court, contending that 429 postal ballot papers had illegally excluded from consideration during the vote count by Returning Officer Dhaval Jani. Rathod argued that election records were also tampered with the conceal this manipulation.
On Monday, Justice Paresh Upadhyay ruled in favour of Rathod on this count, holding that, "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."
As such Justice Upadhyay has set aside the election of Chudasama as being void under several provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951. In this regard, his order states that:
the result of the election, in so far as it concerns Chudasama from the Dhokla constituency for the Gujarat Legislative Assembly Elections, held on December 14, 2017, has been materially affected by the "illegal rejection" of 429 votes.
the election of the Chudasama for the Gujarat Assembly Elections held in 2017, is void under Section 100(1)(d)(iii) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
the procedure adopted for counting of votes in the election in question was against the orders of the Election Commission of India and was illegal. Because of the said illegalities, the result of the election so far as it concerns Chudasama has been materially affected.
the 2017 election of Chudasama is void under Section 100(1)(d)(iv) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
a 'corrupt practice' as defined under Section 123(7) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 was committed during the election in question.
Chudasama and his "election agent" have not only attempted but have successfully obtained and procured assistance from the concerned Returning Officer for the furtherance of Chudasama's prospects in the election in question.
Chudasama and the concerned Returning Office, Dhaval Jani were hand in glove in the election in question.
the election of Chudasama for the Gujarat Assembly Elections held in 2017, is void under Section 100(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
In view of the above, the Court has ruled that,
The Court, however, did not allow the prayer made by Rathod to declare him as the successful candidate for the 2017 elections.
The Judge has directed that the order be communicated to Gujarat Assembly Speaker and the Election Commission.
Whereas a request was made on behalf of Chudasama to stay the judgment for some time, Justice Upadhyay refused to do so, observing that documentary and other evidence has proven the various allegations of election manipulation made against him.
"... to manipulate the election record and in turn to conceal the said manipulation, the relevant orders / instructions of the Election Commission of India, including mandatory instructions, regarding procedure of counting of votes, announcement of result and preparation of Final Result Sheet Form:20 were defied by the Returning Officer, on the day of counting of votes", the Court observed.
As such, the judge rejected the request for stay, remarking that,