Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi on Saturday moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court challenging the returning officer’s decision to declare the winner of the Rajya Sabha elections in the state in February through a draw of lots, Live Law reported.

On February 28, Singhvi had lost the election to the Upper House to Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Harsh Mahajan. Only one Rajya Sabha seat in the state was up for election.

At that point, the Congress had 40 MLAs in the 68-member Assembly. While the BJP had 25 seats, the remaining three members were independents. The Rajya Sabha election resulted in a tie with both candidates securing 34 votes.

After the tie, the names of Singhvi and Mahajan were written on separate slips and placed into a box, as per Rule 75 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. This was in the presence of the candidates and the polling agents. One slip was randomly drawn from the box.

The slip had Singhvi’s name. Singhvi was then eliminated from the selection process, leading the returning officer to declare Mahajan as the winner. Mahajan was sworn in as a Rajya Sabha MP on April 3.

Singhvi has challenged this decision of the returning officer.

Rule 75 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, deals with the counting of votes where only one seat is to be filled. Sub-section (4) of Rule 75 says that when two or more candidates have received the same number of votes, the “returning officer shall decide by lot which of them shall be excluded”.

The way of deciding the winner after a draw of lots “defies common sense”, PTI quoted Singhvi as saying outside the High Court on Saturday.

“It defies common sense, old tradition and practices, anywhere and everywhere in the world that whenever there is a tie between two people, the person whose name is drawn...should be the winner and not the loser,” he said. “If our contentions are accepted ultimately by the High Court, the result declared would have to be declared to be wrong.”

Singhvi was a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan between 2006 and 2018 and then from West Bengal from 2018 to April 3 this year, when his term ended.

The tie of votes during the election indicated that six Congress MLAs and three Independents had voted for BJP’s Mahajan, sparking a brief political crisis in Himachal Pradesh

The six Congress MLAs were subsequently disqualified from the Assembly. They have challenged the speaker’s disqualification order in the Supreme Court. The court has refused to stay the disqualification order.