Gujarat High Court invalidates Bhupendrasinh Chudasama’s election to State assembly from Dholka in 2017

Ahemdabad: The Gujarat high court has today  invalidated the election of state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama from Dholka constituency during general elections of Gujarat assembly in year 2017. Chudasama had been declared victorious by margin of 327 votes. Chudasama may challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court. Chudasama is cabinet rank minister for Education (Primary, Secondary and Adult), Higher and Technical Education, Law and Justice, Legislative and Parliamentary affairs, Salt Industry, Cow-Breeding and Civil Aviation. The election is declared null and void as  the High Court court held there were irregularities in the counting by officers. Detailed copy of verdict is awaited.

Rival Congress candidate Ashwin Rathod who had lost by a margin of just 327 votes in the 2017 assembly election had filed this case in the high court demanding the re-verification of the 429 postal ballots rejected by Returning officer Dhaval Jani claiming that such a step would have changed the result and might have turned it in his favour. Chudasma had in September last year appeared in the high court to depose and even apologised for filing pleas in the Supreme Court questioning the credibility of a high court judge in a trial related to an election petition questioning his victory. He had withdrawn that petition from the apex court too.

The court of Justice Paresh Upadhyay had during last hearing asked both the parties to submit their written submissions. The counsel of the petitioner had concluded the argument in December 2019 while that of Chudasama did so in January this year. The High Court had reserved its verdict in February this year.

Chudasama’s advocate had argued that a CCTV footage allegedly showing his assistant PS talking over cellphone in a polling booth premises could not be accepted as an evidence without verification by the relevant authority according to the provision of the Evidence Act. He had argued that the counting of votes was done in accordance with rules and in presence of authorized officers so there was no need for re-verification of the postal ballots in question. The petitioner had not sought recounting immediately after the counting.

The then returning officer Dhaval Jani had admitted before the court that he did not follow certain instructions of the Election Commission during the counting of votes. He had said that he would have carried out the re-verification as the number of postal ballots rejected was more than the victory margin.

Chudasama to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court

Gujarat BJP Spokesperson reacts to verdict