In a shocker to the Gujarat government, Justice Paresh Upadhyay’s bench of Gujarat High Court nullified the election victory of senior cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, from Dholka constituency in the 2017 assembly polls, on the grounds of malpractice and manipulation, sources reported. Further details are awaited.
Ashwin Rathod, Congress candidate from Dholka constituency for December 2017 Assembly election, had moved the High Court with a petition challenging Chudasama’s victory by a margin of 327 votes. Rathod’s petition claimed Chudasama had indulged in “corrupt practice and breach of many of the mandatory instructions of the Election Commission of India, at various stages of the election process, more particularly at the time of counting of votes”.
The court had then issued notice to the ECI, the returning officer of Dholka Asembly constituency and an observer after making them respondents in the petition.
According to reports, when the RO was examined, he accepted before the bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay that he did not follow certain instructions of the ECI while counting the votes which led to Chudasama’s victory by a thin margin.
Since the victory margin was less than the postal ballots rejected by the returning officer (429), the officer should have followed the ECI’s instruction of mandatory re-verification of all postal ballots, the court had earlier observed. The court had then issued notice to the ECI, the returning officer of Dholka Asembly constituency and an observer after making them respondents in the petition.
Chudasama is minister for Higher and Technical Education, also holding the portfolio of Law and Justice, Parliamentary Affairs, and Civil Aviation in the Vijay Rupani government.