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IndiaChandigarh Mayoral Poll: Returning Officer Anil Masih tenders unconditional apology in...

Chandigarh Mayoral Poll: Returning Officer Anil Masih tenders unconditional apology in SC


New Delhi, Apr 5: Anil Masih, the returning officer for the Chandigarh mayoral election whose result was overturned by the Supreme Court in February, on Friday tendered an unconditional apology to the apex court for his conduct.

He had faced the wrath of the Supreme Court which ordered his criminal prosecution for allegedly making a false statement before it and his “misdemeanour” during the counting of votes.

Masih said he would withdraw the earlier affidavit which stated that he was reeling under depression and anxiety and wherein he denied allegations of tampering with ballots.

“A purported video recording of the election process was leaked online on January 31. Thereafter, the respondent (Masih) was subjected to incessant criticism, name-calling and ad hominems by members of political parties as well as social media. This put the respondent, including his family members, under immense mental trauma and stress,” he had said in the affidavit.

He stated that his “privacy and mental was intruded upon” due to the media coverage and reportage during the period preceding his appearance in court.

The apex court, which in February declared defeated AAP-Congress alliance candidate Kuldeep Kumar as the new mayor of the union territory while setting aside the January 30 poll result, had said Masih had put marks on eight ballot papers to create a ground for treating them as invalidly cast.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Masih, told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud that he has tendered an apology which is completely unconditional.

“I have advised him to withdraw the first affidavit and surrender to my lords magnanimity. That's my respectful submission,” Rohatgi said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Kumar, opposed the apology.

The bench adjourned the matter until July 23 for further consideration.

The apex court had earlier issued a notice to Masih to show cause as to why proceedings should not be initiated against him under section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for allegedly making false statement before the court.

Masih, a nominated BJP member of the civic body, is facing criminal proceedings for making a false statement that the ballots were invalid.

In its verdict, the Supreme Court bench had said Masih's conduct as the presiding officer has to be deprecated at two levels.

“Firstly, by his conduct he has unlawfully altered the course of the mayoral election… Secondly, in making a solemn statement before this court on February 19, the presiding officer expressed falsehood for which he must be held accountable,” the bench had said.

It had said as a returning officer, Masih could not have been unmindful of the consequences of making such a statement before the court. The bench noted that before recording Masih's statement the court had placed him on notice about the serious consequences if he was found to have made an incorrect statement.

Defeated AAP mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar had moved the top court challenging a and High Court order which refused to grant any interim relief to the party which sought a fresh poll.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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