Mayor acted in malafide manner after unpalatable result, HC told

New Delhi: Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi acted in a malafide manner when she called for re-election of six members of the MCD standing committee after finding the election results “politically unpalatable”, BJP councillors alleged in the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

Senior lawyers appeaaring for the two councillors submitted before Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav that Oberoi, also the returning officer (RO), invalidated one of the votes in a manner “unrecognised in law” and interdicted the election process.

The mayor had on February 24 announced fresh polling for electing six members of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) standing committee on February 27 at 11 am amid clashes between the councillors of the BJP and the AAP in the municipal House.

On petitions by councillors Kamaljeet Sehrawat and Shikha Roy, the high court had stayed the re-election on February 25.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Sehrawat, stated that invalidity of a vote has to be endorsed before ascertaining the quota which determines the winner but in the present case the mayor wrongly invalidated a vote at a subsequent stage.

“Once quota is fixed, how can anyone go back to validation? Quota is to see that after the first stage, who wins. If this is not malafide what is? Because of unpalatable result, you try to subvert the election,” he argued.

“This is res ipsa loquitur (things speak for themselves). This shows the motive of the mayor. Mayor acted ex post facto on unfavourable result. Mayor acted blatantly malafidely is a good ground for interference of writ court,” Jethmalani said.

Jethmalani was referring to the quota of votes each candidate was allotted by their respective parties to ensure their victory in preferential voting.

Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, appearing for Roy, emphasised that there is no enabling provision in law which empowers the mayor to call for a re-election or a re-counting and she also has no power to nullify the election process.

He also said there was no invalid vote at the relevant stage and “ex post facto scrutiny of ballot papers” cannot be permitted.

“There was no invalid vote and therefore quota was fixed. Only when result sheet was placed and when she found that it was not politically palatable, she revisited the votes,” Mehta said.

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