Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Gujarat Cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday challenging the Gujarat High Court’s decision to cancel his election on grounds of malpractice and manipulation, Bar and Bench reported. Chudasama had won from the Dholka constituency in Ahmedabad by a margin of 327 votes in 2017.
The BJP leader filed an appeal through advocate EC Agrawala, and contended that the High Court had failed to appreciate proper facts of the case. “The High Court has reached a completely erroneous conclusion in holding the successful election of the petitioner as illegal and void,” the appeal said.
In his petition, Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod had alleged that Chudasama violated “many of the mandatory instructions of the Election Commission” at various stages of the election process. Rathod said that the returning officer had manipulated the counting process, and demanded a re-verification of 429 postal ballots.
Chudasama’s appeal claimed that the Gujarat High Court ignored the legal distinction between a postal ballot and a vote. Chudasama added that at the time of results being declared, no written complaint or any demand or objection came from Rathod or his counting agents regarding the rejection of 429 postal ballots. He said the High Court also did not consider that the onus of proof was on the person alleging wrongdoing and it was for him to prove illegal adjustment or improper rejection of votes.
“It is submitted that Congress candidate Ashwinbhai Khamsubhai Rathod has not discharged this onus of wrongful rejection of votes and that the result was materially affected,” the appeal stated. Chudasama also said that the High Court failed to appreciate that due process was followed during the counting procedure.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Justice Paresh Upadhyay had noted that Chudasama was complicit with the returning officer, who deliberately avoided the counting of postal ballots, and rejected his lawyers’ request to stay the order. The High Court had said that Chudasama and the returning officer “were hand-in-glove in the election”.
Meanwhile, Rathod has also moved the Supreme Court in a caveat application, asking the SC to not do anything in the matter without a notice to the Congress leader.
Chudasama currently holds education, law and justice, legislative and parliamentary affairs, and some other departments in the Vijay Rupani-led government.