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Victorious councillor loses seat,courtesy ‘computer error’

A “computer error” that cost an elected municipal councillor her seat has invited flak for the Delhi State Election Commission for making a “mockery” of the entire democratic process.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
February 17, 2009 12:50:07 am

A “computer error” that cost an elected municipal councillor her seat has invited flak for the Delhi State Election Commission for making a “mockery” of the entire democratic process.

The court of Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau has declared the election of Annapurna Mishra,a BJP candidate from Sonia Vihar,as void for the erroneous electoral lists that violated the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.

The “computer error,” in the case,pertained to the preparation of post-delimitation electoral lists for the Sonia Vihar and Karawal Nagar wards. While two villages — Sabhapur and Sabhapur Shahdara — were initially part of the Sonia Vihar constituency,the final delimitation order released in February 2007 allotted these to Karawal Nagar.

Aggrieved,the resident welfare association made representations to the Commission and the returning officer was subsequently directed to rectify the mistake by correcting the polling booths.

In the Sonia Vihar constituency,Annapurna Mishra won the election by defeating her nearest rival,Congress candidate Kavita Rani,by a narrow margin of 465 votes. Rani then filed an election petition before a city court,accusing the returning officer and others of “malafidely” transferring the votes of her ward to another ward “to accord political benefits” to her rival candidate. The residents of the villages also filed a separate petition challenging the election of Mishra. At first,the Election Commission refused to admit any mistake on its part in marking the polling booths. Some documents were later submitted by the officials so as to show how the two villages were not part of Sonia Vihar.

Applications charging the Secretary of the Delimitation Committee,Deputy Commissioner (north-west),area SDM and the returning officer with contempt of the court were also filed by residents.

The secretary of the Election Commission appeared before the court and admitted: “It was a computer error.”

The court then declared the election of Mishra from Sonia Vihar as void for violating the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act.

ADJ Lau slammed the Commission for giving way to a “peculiar situation,” as the authorised voters from Sonia Vihar cast their “unauthorised” votes for Karawal Nagar.

Consequently,the election for the Karawal Nagar was affected,observed the court while leaving it to the Commission to examine these “consequential effects” and take a decision.

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