Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday gave two more weeks time to Congress leader Ahmed Patel to file his reply on a petition by Balwantsinh Rajput, the BJP candidate who had challenged his win in the recently-held Rajya Sabha elections.
The court of Justice Bela Trivedi deferred the hearing to 6 October on a request made by Patel's lawyer seeking more time to file the affidavit in response to the petition.
The court had on 21 August issued notices to respondents including election commission, Patel and BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, who were elected as Rajya Sabha members.
Rajput, who was a Congress MLA and had quit the party just ahead of the 8 August Rajya Sabha elections held for three seats, was fielded as a BJP candidate.
In his petition, he challenged the decision of the election commission to invalidate votes of two rebel Congress MLAs who had gone against the party's whip to vote for him, after they showed their voter slip to a person other than Congress polling agent — a practice that invalidates the vote.
Rajput has contended that votes of two other Congress MLAs should also be discounted as they had also shown their ballot papers to unauthorised persons. If this happens, he will emerge a winner.
The EC's decision paved the way for the victory of Congress candidate Patel — who got 44 votes, the minimum he needed to win — in the high-stake electoral battle.
Rajput polled 38 votes.
Rajput's petition said that once the returning officer had used his discretion to accept the two votes as valid, the EC had "no power to issue any direction to the returning officer for accepting or rejecting any vote".
The EC had rejected the votes of former Congress MLAs Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohel.
Congress's polling agent Shaktisinh Gohil had lodged a complaint before the counting began that these two MLAs showed their ballots to BJP representatives before putting them in the ballot box.
MLAs are not allowed to show their ballots to anybody other than the authorised polling agent of their own party, the Congress leader said.
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017 20:56:32 IST