The Election Commission (EC) Tuesday set up a Committee of Officers (COO) to examine a Gujarat High Court judgment, that set aside the election of state cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama from the Assembly constituency of Dholka.
Chudasama holds the portfolios of Education, Law & Justice, Legislative & Parliamentary Affairs, Salt Industries, Cow Breeding and Civil Aviation in the Vijay Rupani government.
The judgment came in an election petition filed by Congress leader Ashwin Rathod, who had contested against Chudasama from Dholka in 2017. Rathod had in his petition claimed that the then returning officer Dhaval Jani had illegally rejected 429 postal ballot votes, which was the reason he lost to Chudasama by a margin of merely 327 votes.
The judgment, pronounced by Justice Paresh Upadhyay, held that the EC’s instructions were not followed, giving an unfair advantage to the winning candidate and thus materially affecting the election.
In a press statement released Tuesday, the EC announced that the COO was set up by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora after a discussion with the secretary general of the Commission.
The three-member COO will be headed by Secretary General Umesh Sinha, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar and Vijay Pandey, Director (Law). The committee has been tasked with examining “details of the judgement and present before the Commission”.
“In this matter, on behest of the Commission, direction had already been conveyed to the State Government of Gujarat to initiate disciplinary action against the then Returning Officer Mr Dhaval Jani, Deputy Collector. The proceedings are underway,” said the EC’s press statement.
Jani was also removed from election duties during the Lok Sabha elections in view of the interim order of the state High Court in the matter.
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