Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022
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NEW DELHI: The Election Commission early on Saturday gave the green signal for counting to commence for Rajya Sabha polls in both Haryana and Maharashtra, but not before directing the returning officer in Maharashtra to reject the vote cast by Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande on grounds of violation of secrecy of vote.
Counting was held up in the two states for several hours in view of complaints alleging the violation of voting rules by some MLAs.
EC, with respect to Maharashtra, passed a detailed order after analysing the report of the returning officer, observer and special observer and also viewing the video footage. Among the violations of the voting process and rules pointed out by EC in the order, are that Kande took the ballot paper towards his authorise agent without folding it; and that he showed his vote to the authorised representative resulting in the visual capturing of the ballot paper from the angle of the camera and it being visible from the adjoining cubicle. Also, EC pointed out that Kande, despite being warned by the polling staff, lingered with the unfolded ballot paper and was also seen speaking with people and moving towards another cubicle with the unfolded ballot paper.
“The fact that the unfolded ballot paper was visible from the camera angle and therefore to persons other than authorised agents in the room, all-in-all categorically makes his conduct violative of the procedure for maintaining secrecy in terms of Rule 39A read with Rule 39AA of the Conduct of Rules, 1961,” the EC noted in its order.
The Commission cited its own ruling in the Ahmed Patel case in 2017 which had set the conditions wherein any vote cast in violation of election rules would be cancelled at the time of voting or counting.
Though complaints regarding violation of rules were also received with respect to other MLAs in Maharashtra — namely, NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad, Congress MLA Yashomati Thakur, BJP MLA Sudhir Mungatiwar and Independent MLA Ravi Rana — alleging in the first three cases that they had handed over their ballot paper to the authorised representative of either their party or another party and in Rana’s case that he had show Hanuman Chalisa after casting his vote, thus breaching the model code of conduct — the returning officer rejected all the four complaints. The observer and special observer agreed with the RO’s decision, leading the EC to also endorse the RO’s decision.
Reversing the decision of the RO okaying Kande’s vote after watching the videography of polling, EC directed that his ballot paper be segregated before commencement of counting.
In case of Haryana, the EC rejected all complaints against the voting process and let the counting commence early on Saturday.

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