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Chandigarh mayoral polls: Supreme Court appalled by defacing of ballots

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New Delhi, Feb 5: Appalled by the alleged defacing of ballot papers in the Chandigarh mayoral polls, the Supreme Court on Monday said this is a mockery of democracy and ordered that the ballots and the video of the electoral proceedings be preserved. Taking note of a plea of an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor alleging wrongdoing in the polls, the court issued notices to the Chandigarh authorities, including the civic body.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra expressed annoyance after watching the video of the electoral proceedings and said that, prima facie, the returning officer was “defacing” the ballot papers.
“This is a mockery of democracy. We are appalled by what has happened. We will not allow democracy to be murdered like this,” the CJI said. The bench ordered that the ballot papers and the video recordings of the proceedings be preserved.
One of the AAP councillors had moved the top court challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that refused to grant any interim relief to the party seeking fresh mayoral polls in Chandigarh. The BJP on January 30 swept the Chandigarh mayoral polls against the Congress-AAP alliance.
Manoj Sonkar of the BJP had defeated the AAP’s Kuldeep Kumar for the mayor’s post, polling 16 votes against his rival’s 12. Eight votes were declared invalid.
Bihar caste census: SC to commence final hearing in April
The Supreme Court on Monday fixed April 16 for a final hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the Patna High Court order upholding the Bihar government’s decision to conduct a caste survey. A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said that the matter required a detailed hearing.
Justice Khanna said all the intervention applications filed on the issue will also be taken on April 16 when the final hearing will take place. On January 2, the top court had asked the Bihar government to put in public domain the break-up of the caste survey data to enable those aggrieved to challenge the findings. It had refused to grant any kind of interim relief to the petitioners who have challenged the caste survey. On October 6, 2023, the top court questioned the Bihar government as to why it published its caste survey data. It had, however, refused to restrain the state government from making public further data, and said it may examine if the state has the power to conduct such an exercise.
On October 2, 2023, the Nitish Kumar government released the findings of the caste survey, a move its detractors claimed was made keeping in mind the 2024 Parliamentary elections. Kumar was then heading the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance government. He rejoined the NDA last month.
The data revealed that the OBCs and EBCs constituted a whopping 63 per cent of the state’s population. The state’s total population stood at a little over 13.07 crore, out of which the Extremely Backward Classes (36 per cent) were the largest social segment followed by the Other Backward Classes at 27.13 per cent. The survey also said the Yadavs, an OBC group was the largest caste in terms of population, accounting for 14.27 per cent of the total. (PTI)

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