The Telangana High Court on Friday suspended a circular of the State Election Commission (SEC) declaring ballot papers with 'distinguish mark' instead of arrow cross-mark as valid in the elections for Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
The court passed the orders on a House motion moved by the BJP challenging the circular issued by the SEC late on Thursday.
The court directed that ballots with marking other than arrow cross-mark be treated separately and if the number of such votes is not higher than the majority, SEC may declare results but if the number is more than the majority, the results will be subject to court's final orders in the matter. BJP moved the court as the counting of votes polled on Tuesday began Friday morning.
During poll conducted the polling officers provided 'distinguish mark' instead of arrow cross mark
The SEC on Thursday night issued orders after some counting observers sought certain clarifications during a meeting. "During poll conducted on December 1 in some polling stations, the polling officers provided distinguish mark instead of arrow cross mark for marking on the ballot paper to the voters to cast their vote.
Clarification is sought on validity of that ballot papers during counting of votes to be taken on 02-12-2020 whether to consider the ballot papers marked with distinguish mark," reads the circular. "It is clarified that, if the intention of the voter is clear on marking to a particular candidate, that vote can be treated as a valid vote to that candidate since it is the mistake of polling personnel under rule 51(h) of Conduct of Election Rules, 2005," it added.
Meanwhile, Congress party has also raised its objection to SEC orders. It demanded that if ballot papers other than 'swastik' were found, counting of votes should be stopped.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee election coordination committee convenor G. Niranjan wrote to Sate Election Commissioner C. Parthasarathi that if any mistakes have happened the same should be brought to the notice of political parties. The Congress leader said SEC's unilateral decision was not proper and it has raised doubts. Niranjan said these mistakes happened because the elections were conducted in a hurry.