Ensuring free, fair poll imperative for democracy: Supreme Court on Chandigarh mayoral poll : The Tribune India

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Ensuring free, fair poll imperative for democracy: Supreme Court on Chandigarh mayoral poll

Ensuring free, fair poll imperative for democracy: Supreme Court on Chandigarh mayoral poll

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Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, February 22

Maintaining that free and fair elections are a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has said ensuring a free and fair electoral process is imperative to maintain the legitimacy of and trust in representative democracy.

A three-judge Bench, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, which had on February 20 set aside the Chandigarh mayoral poll results and declared AAP-Congress combine candidate Kuldeep Kumar the winner, said, “Elections at the local participatory level act as a microcosm of the larger democratic structure in the country.”

Using its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the top court had held that the eight votes declared invalid by returning officer Anil Masih were validly cast in favour of Kumar, who had in fact got 20 votes against BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar’s 16.

The detailed verdict was released on Thursday.

The Bench said, “This court has consistently held that free and fair elections are a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.”

It said, “Local governments, such as municipal corporations, engage with issues that affect citizens’ daily lives and act as a primary point of contact with representative democracy. The process of citizens electing councillors, who in turn elect the mayor, serves as a channel for ordinary citizens to ventilate their grievances through their representatives — both directly and indirectly elected.”

The top court emphasised, “Ensuring a free and fair electoral process throughout this process, therefore, is imperative to maintain the legitimacy of and trust in representative democracy.”

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