A day after AAP councillor and Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi ordered a fresh poll for six members of the standing committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) be held on February 27, the High Court on Saturday stayed the re-election.
Justice Gaurang Kanth was hearing two pleas filed by Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Shikha Rai, the elected standing committee members from the BJP. The petitioners contended that the re-election order was wrong because the election process was completed successfully and both the BJP and AAP won three seats each.
On Friday, a fistfight broke out in the MCD House between BJP and AAP councillors after the Mayor declared one vote invalid in the election for the six-member standing committee. Ms. Oberoi adjourned the House and called for fresh elections to be held on Monday, for which a notice signed by Municipal Secretary Bhagwan Singh was issued. However, a separate letter signed by Mr. Singh noted that none of the votes polled on Friday were found to be invalid and that there was “no need” to seek a recount.
On Saturday, the HC stayed the order and said it will now consider the matter on March 22. “The court observed that from a perusal of Regulation 51, it is nowhere reflected that the returning officer or Mayor has the authority to declare an election of standing committee as null and void. It is not out of place to mention that admittedly, the counting of votes and further duty cast upon the Mayor to declare the result of elections held on February 24 shall culminate in final results,” said Himanshu Sethi, advocate who represented Ms. Sehrawat.
Ms. Oberoi’s counsel stated that the ballot boxes and papers may have been violated to which the court directed the counsel to file the response on record.
Both AAP and the BJP welcomed the court’s decision and continued to hit out at each other. Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva said the HC’s decision has put a stop to AAP’s attempts at running the MCD with “arbitrary autocracy”.
AAP leaders termed the HC order a victory for the party. Senior AAP leader Atishi said the BJP was hoping the court would endorse an “illegal” demand of the BJP regarding the counting of votes, but it refused to accept their unconstitutional demand. An AAP source said the party was a little doubtful of getting a majority in the standing committee but after Saturday’s order, AAP has gained complete control of the MCD for the next few months.
“The constitution of the committee will take time. Till then, all proposals will directly come to the MCD House where AAP has a majority and it will be able to run the civic body through the Mayor and the House,” the source said.