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Here's all you need to know about 48-vote case involving Sena MP Ravindra Waikar

Updated on: 16 June,2024 07:10 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Ravindra Waikar's relative was allegedly accused of using a mobile phone inside the counting center, which is against the regulations, leading to Ravindra Waikar's win with a margin of 48 votes.

Here's all you need to know about 48-vote case involving Sena MP Ravindra Waikar

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Here's all you need to know about 48-vote case involving Sena MP Ravindra Waikar

In the closely contested 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar emerged victorious in the Mumbai North West constituency by a razor-thin margin of just 48 votes. However, recent developments have cast a shadow over this narrow win.

On June 4, during the vote-counting process at the NESCO center in Goregaon, a mobile phone was found inside the restricted area. 

The controversy began when Mangesh Pandilkar, a relative of Shiv Sena candidate Ravindra Waikar, was seen using a mobile phone at the NESCO Center during vote counting.

Ideally, only ENCORE operators, returning officers (RO), and a few other EC officials are allowed to take their mobile phones inside centers during the counting of votes.

Suchitra Krunal Amle Patil, an additional assistant election adjudicating officer, reported the violation. According to the police official, in her complaint, Patil informed the cops that Gurav, an ENCORE (poll portal) operator, gave his mobile phone to Pandilkar inside the NESCO center despite being aware of the rules.

Surinder Mohan Arora from the Bharat Jan Aadhar Party immediately reported this to Vanrai police and requested an FIR.

The cops registered the FIR against Pandilkar and Gurav under Sections 188 and 134 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 134 of the Representation of the People Act.

A senior officer from Mumbai police told me mid-day that the counting hall falls under RO Vandana Suryavanshi’s jurisdiction. 

The FIR registration was reportedly delayed. When asked about the delay in FIR registration, the police officer explained, “The jurisdiction is crucial. The complainant should be from the RO’s office for a fair investigation.” 

“We’re being cautious as it involves the Election Commission. Once the FIR is filed, we can retrieve call records and analyze the phone,” the officer added. 

The police officials accused the returning officer (RO) of not cooperating in the matter by not sharing the CCTV footage of the counting hall where Pandilkar was reportedly seen using a mobile phone, which was banned by the ECI. 

However, when talking to Mid-day with Mid-day, Returning Officer Vandana Suryawanshi confirmed that Mumbai police requested the CCTV footage on June 11 and asked for a complainant to register a case.

Despite the delays, on June 13, the Vanrai police registered an FIR against Mangesh Vasant Pandilkar for allegedly using a mobile phone inside the center in Goregaon amid vote counting. 

The cops also booked Dinesh Gurav for allegedly giving his device to Pandilkar. 

During investigations, the Vanrai police found that the accused, Mangesh Pandilkar, a relative of Ravindra Waikar, was using the phone, which was connected to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Police said this mobile phone was used for generating the OTP that unlocked the EVM machine, which was used inside the NESCO Center on June 4. 

The police have now sent the mobile phone to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to find the mobile phone data and are also taking fingerprints that are on the phone. 

The complainant, Amol Kirtikar (a Sena-UBT candidate), had requested a recount of votes and planned to file an election petition in court.

During the counting of votes through the EVM machine, the candidate Amol Kirtikar was ahead, but when the votes on the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System were counted, Kirtikar lagged behind, eventually losing the race to Waikar.

According to the latest updates, Vandana Suryawanshi, in a press conference on June 16, said that the CCTV of the vote counting hall, cannot be provided without any orders from the Competent court.

Suryawanshi when asked about the OTP system in the EVM, she said, "There is no OTP generated in the EVM. It is non communicable device. EVM is a stand alone machine."

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