C'garh polls: Who is Anil Masih, the officer in question

The Supreme Court criticized the poll officer for irregularities during the Chandigarh mayoral elections on Monday. The court expressed shock at the manner in which the officer tampered with votes, stating that it undermined democracy.

Opposition parties have accused Anil Masih, the presiding officer, of intentionally invalidating votes. Masih, a nominated municipal councillor and active member of the Chandigarh BJP, is associated with the party’s minority wing. He has been seen attending various BJP meetings and events, including the recent celebration when former AAP councillor Lakhwinder Singh joined the party on January 10.

Masih has been associated with the BJP since 2015 and has actively participated in party events, representing the minority wing. Recognizing his dedication, the party nominated him as a councillor in the Chandigarh MC House in October 2022. Masih completed his education at a government school in Sector 11 and later graduated from DAV College in the city. His wife currently works as a manager at one of the girls’ hostels at Punjab Engineering College in Sector 12.

Kuldeep Singh, the AAP-Congress candidate, expressed shock at the presiding officer’s failure to call representatives from the BJP and AAP-Congress bloc to witness the counting and verify the ballot papers. This departure from past practice raised concerns about the impartiality of the electoral process. The AAP demanded that the presiding officer be booked under sedition laws for deceiving the Constitution and questioned the BJP’s commitment to democratic rights in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In response, Anil Masih told TOI that opposition councillors had torn some ballot papers during the commotion. He claimed to have changed 11 ballot papers based on objections raised by members. Masih explained that he insisted on completing the process according to the bylaws before allowing the presence of representatives from the opposition bloc. However, before he could call their representatives, the opposition councillors disrupted the proceedings, snatched the ballot papers, and started running. Fortunately, the marshals present intervened and retrieved the torn ballot papers. Masih maintained that his actions were in accordance with the rules and regulations governing the election process.

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William Murphy

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