HSP’s candidate moves HC against Shiv Sena’s win in Mumbai LS seat

Mumbai: The case of a Shiv Sena winner of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, has now landed before the Bombay High Court, lawyers said here on Saturday.

Hindu Samaj Party’s (HSP) Bharat K. Shah, through his lawyer Asim Sarode, has moved the high court, challenging the election of ruling Shiv Sena-MahaYuti candidate Ravindra D. Waikar by merely 48 votes.

Shah (54) through his legal team of Advocates Asim Sarode, Vinaykumar Khatu, Shriya Awale, Balkrishna Nidhalkar and others made the Election Commission of India (ECI), District Election Officer, Director-General of Police and Waikar.

“We have demanded a stay on the counting of votes held at the NESCO grounds on June 4 and an injunction on the declared result. We have sought that all records, documents, CCTV, etc should be checked properly. On June 20, we have written to the Lok Sabha Secretary-General not to administer the oath of office to Waikar given the serious complaints and irregularities in the counting process,” Sarode told IANS.

Reacting to the development, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said it was necessary as the MahaYuti had hijacked the election of one Mumbai LS seat, and in the interest of democracy, constitution and transparency of the poll process.

In the election petition – which is likely to come up for hearing on July 01 – Shah has alleged that the ECI failed to conduct the elections and the counting of votes in a free and transparent environment, thus raising huge doubts among the people.

When the Shiv Sena (UBT) was romping ahead in multiple rounds, and even declared a winner at one point, however, Waikar insisted on a recount of the postal ballots and after a series of quick developments, he was declared the winner by just 48 LS votes.

Shah has raked up the prime issue behind his defeat at the use of a mobile phone inside the NESCO grounds where all types of phones were banned.

In the HC plea Shah pointed out the use of the mobile phone of one Dinesh Gurav, appointed on a temporary basis for the ECI work, and later by Prajakta Waikar-Mahale and subsequently even by Mangesh V. Padilkar, reportedly a relative of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, when the counting of votes was progressing.

“Is such a temporary appointment of Dinesh Gurav in the ECI’s office correct, especially since he is from a private company,” asked Shah, adding that when he made oral enquiries he was informed that the phone was handed over by the Tehsildar, though no names were provided.

He questioned why Prajakta Waikar-Mahale did not raise objections when the Election Returning Officer Vandana Suryawanshi was using her phone barely two feet away.

The petition contends that the Maharashtra Police did not perform their role within the framework of the law and delayed the handing over of the matter to the Vanrai Police Station after several hours.

During the time of the ‘delay’ the whole sensitive situation was being allegedly handled by Mangesh V. Pandilkar, who has also come under the police scanner.

Shah alleged that there was a mobile phone which was being illegally used inside the counting centre that was not sealed by the police, as per the legal requirements, nor was a panchnama report filed after the police complaint.

Akin to the notice to the LS Secretary-General, Shah has claimed that Padilkar was using Gurav’s mobile phone constantly, inside the counting centre, before counting of the votes and even for entering an OTP.

By generating the OTP, the petitioner expressed apprehensions that the illegality perpetrated by the police investigators during the probe would create hurdles for getting justice.

Given the chain of illegalities in this case, Shah’s lawyers described it as a ‘major election scam’ that tumbled out after he (Shah) demanded the CCTV footage of the NESCO Polling centre of that day (June 4).

The District Election Officer informed Shah on June 14 that as per the ECI Election Conduct Rules 93(1) of 1961, the CCTV footage cannot be provided in view of the notification of July 18, 2023”, which the petitioner termed as a violation of his fundamental rights.

The petitioner added that between 2014-2024, the ECI has changed/modified various rules to dilute its authority, and urged that the investigation should be completed within 60 days.

IANS

 

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