Rajya Sabha polls: ECI raises objection to Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande’s plea over invalid vote

The Election Commission of India on Wednesday raised a preliminary objection to a petition filed by Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande against the ECI‘s decision declaring his vote cast in the last week’s Rajya Sabha elections as invalid. The ECI’s decision had come after the BJP alleged that he violated the voting process.

Kande, in his petition filed through advocate Ajinkya Udane, said the ECI’s decision discharging his vote has caused grave prejudice to his dignity and reputation, and sought that the HC quash and set aside the ECI’s decision.

On Wednesday, advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, appearing for the ECI, the Election Commissioner and the Chief Election Commissioner, told a division bench of Justices S V Gangapurwala and Dhiraj Singh Thakur that he was raising a preliminary objection to the plea.

“The petitioner should have filed an election petition as he has challenged a decision of the Election Commission,” Chandrachud said.

The bench then said it would hear arguments on the preliminary objections on June 24.

Kande in his plea claimed that on June 10, when the Rajya Sabha elections were held for six seats in Maharashtra, he had gone to the electoral hall (at the Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai), exercised his right to vote, made the necessary endorsement on the ballot paper and as per rules, came out and showed the ballot paper to Shiv Sena leader Sunil Prabhu, who had issued a whip for the polls.

“It is alleged by MLA Yogesh Sagar that the petitioner had shown his ballot paper to the whip of another political party. This is not true and the petitioner had shown his ballot paper to only Sunil Prabhu and not to any other political party, the petition said.

Sagar ought to have raised this objection at that time and not after Kande left the electoral hall, the petition said.

It further claimed that the election officer in-charge of the poll station had given his ruling that the allegations made by Sagar were not factually correct and that Kande’s vote was valid.

However, later in the evening, several leaders of the BJP met with the ECI raising the same grievance. No notice was given to the petitioner (Kande) and without seeking Kande’s response, the ECI thought it fit to interfere with the decision taken by the election officer and held Kande’s vote as invalid, the petition said.

In the fiercely-contested polls for total six seats from Maharashtra last Friday, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Pawar lost to BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik- its third nominee. The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and its allies NCP and Congress won one seat each.

The opposition BJP won all the three seats it had contested.

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