Ahmedabad, May 12: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday invalidated the election of Law and Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to the Legislative Assembly. It held that he won the polls to the Dholka seat in 2017 based on “corrupt practices” and held his election as “unlawful” and “null and void”, The Hindu reported.
The election petition was moved by Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod, who challenged Mr. Chudasama’s win with a slender margin of just 327 votes. Mr. Rathod said the victory was based on several malpractices committed in the counting process.
Justice Paresh Upadhyay delivered the verdict, which was kept reserved for several weeks after several hearings. He held that the victory was achieved through “irregularities and malpractices” during counting of votes.
Justice Upadhyay refused to stay the order to give time to Mr. Chudasama to avail further legal remedy by approaching the Supreme Court. As a result, Mr. Chudasama no longer stands to be a legislator unless and until he gets a stay from the apex court. Justice Upadhyay also refused the petitioner’ prayer that he should be declared victorious as Mr. Chudasama’s election had been set aside and become void.
In his plea, the petitioner alleged that returning officer (RO) Dhaval Jani committed several irregularities in the counting of votes, including illegal rejection of 429 votes, which were cast through ballot papers.
Moreover, 29 votes, which were in EVMs, were not counted by officers as there was a difference of 29 votes between “1,59,946 votes in the voters turnover report of the returning officer and 1,59,917 votes in the final declaration of result made by the returning officer”.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told the media that the party and the government would study the judgement and then decide the next legal strategy for Mr. Chudasama.