Rajya Sabha elections: Haryana independent's vote validity to face judicial challenge

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The last chapter in the Haryana Rajya Sabha election saga is yet to be written. A photocopy of a ballot paper purportedly of an Independent MLA is doing the rounds in Congress circles. This MLA marked his vote in favour of Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma who was later declared elected.

What was interesting in this ballot paper was that the voting mark was not found in the prescribed box but next to Sharma’s name. Sources said Congress will challenge the validity of this vote. Its legal team is huddled together to prepare a petition, which will be filed in court on Monday.

The petition reportedly will demand the rejection of the Independent’s vote. It could alternatively seek a ruling declaring party MLA Kiran Choudhary’s rejected vote as valid. Sharma had edged past Maken on the basis of the second preference votes. His margin of victory is so thin that if the court rejects the Independent MLA’s vote, Maken will win. Sources said Kiran’s vote was rejected because she had put a tick mark in front of Maken’s name instead of writing the number 1 in the box alongside.

When the ballot of the Independent came up for scrutiny, Returning Officer Rajendra Singh Nandal is learnt to have pointed out that the vote was not written in the prescribed box. There are three horizontal boxes on the ballot. First has the name of the candidate, second the photo, and the last box is for marking the vote. The Independent MLA put the mark ‘1’ in the name box. 

Nandal reportedly insisted on rejecting the vote, but Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Agarwal and Special Observer Anurag Agarwal, both IAS officers, overruled him. Nandal is a state services officer. The IAS duo reportedly said that the intention of the Independent was clear, to which Nandal said Kiran’s intention, too, was equally clear. The question, Nandal reportedly said, was whether the preference was marked in a prescribed manner or not.