Monday, November 29, 1999

Supreme Court notice to central minister on election

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to union Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi on a petition related to alleged bogus votes cast during the 2008 Rajasthan assembly elections.Petitioner Kalyan Singh Chouhan, who defeated Joshi by one vote, filed the petition on deletion of some bogus votes and the counting of tendered votes. A related case is also pending in the Rajasthan High Court.A voter, who finds his vote has already been cast, is entitled to cast a tendered vote. These are cast on ballot papers and are sealed and locked away.Chouhan is seeking the counting of all the 10 tendered votes that were cast in Nathdwara constituency during the elections.The vacation bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Deepak Verma and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan passed the order while hearing Chouhan's plea challenging the high court order dismissing his application for counting all the 10 tendered votes instead of six as ordered by it earlier.Besides other grounds, Chouhan's application for the counting of all the 10 tendered votes was dismissed by the high court on the ground of inordinate delay in making the plea.The apex court said the high court, which was hearing the matter, would continue to do so but would not pronounce any final order.After losing the election by one vote, Joshi succeeded in identifying six of the tendered votes. He moved the high court for their counting. After framing the issues, the high court is now recording the evidence.Tendered votes and their records are kept secret. If the margin of victory and defeat is more than one, then tendered votes are counted after identifying the valid voters and erasing the bogus votes.During the 2008 elections, Chouhan had defeated Joshi by just one vote. At the time of the state assembly elections, Joshi was the president of Rajasthan Congress and an aspirant for the chief minister's position.Appearing for the petitioner Chouhan, senior counsel U.U. Lalit said all the 10 votes should be counted. He said: 'If you are counting the tendered votes then the law should apply with equal force and there should be no segregation.'When senior counsel Pramod Swarup, appearing for Joshi, opposed the plea, Justice Verma asked: 'Do you dispute that there are 10 tendered votes. If no, then why not count all?'Swarup, on behalf of Joshi, told the court that he has the list of six voters who had cast tendered votes but petitioner Chouhan does not have details of even one of the remaining four.When the court asked how he came to know about the six, the senior counsel said that he had polling agents in all polling booths.

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