Gujarat Law Minister Bhupendra Chudasama apologizes to the High Court

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Law Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama today apologized to the high court here for a petition filed in the apex court in which he had hinted that the high court was not doing an impartial hearing of the petition challenging his wafer thin margin victory on Dholka seat in the last assembly election in 2017.

Chudasama today appeared in the court to depose before it in the case filed by Ashwin Rathod, his rival Congress candidate in the election who lost by a margin of 327 votes only.

The Minister, who also was in-charge of Education and Parliamentary Affairs, had earlier challenged the maintainability of the petition but the court had admitted it for hearing. Chudasama had then approached the apex court against it but did not get any respite from there also. Earlier this year he had filed a petition in which he had in raised objection on the hearing of the matter. He withdrew it in February.

Today in the court of Justice Paresh Upadhyay when counsel of the petitioner Shravil Majmudar asked him about his petition in the Apex court which he had latter withdrawn, Chudasama said that he had filed the petition and he felt his mistakes and now apologize to the honourable high court. He said that he respected the court.

The court on the other hand said that he need not apologize and it was his right that if he did not want to reply to a query he could do so.

Notably, the petitioner had alleged that the minister had won the election held on December 14, 2017 by a wafer-thin margin of 327 votes and after the returning officer rejected 429 votes through postal ballots, a number greater than the winning margin. It was the contention of Rathod that the rejection of 429 votes received through postal ballots by the returning officer was illegal and resulted in Chudasama winning the election.

Petitioner Rathod had contended that the then deputy collector of Dholka, Gaurang Prajapati, who was supposed to be the returning officer as per his designation, was removed after the election code of conduct was implemented. In place of Prajapati, one Dhavan Jani was posted at Dholka with an aim to increase Chudasama’s prospects of winning the election. Another argument of Rathod was that although the standing instruction of the Election Commission of India is that the postal ballots are to be counted before counting of votes on EVMs, the same was not followed. In fact, the postal ballots were counted only after counting of the EVM votes and after knowing that there was a narrow margin between the two contesting candidates.