36. (1) Immediately after the close of the poll, that is, as soon as the last of such persons, if any, as are present and waiting to vote as mentioned in Article 35, has voted, the Presiding Officer shall, in the presence of such of the contesting candidates, election agents and polling agents as may be present, proceed with the count of votes.
(2) The Presiding Officer shall give such of the contesting candidates, election agents and polling agents as may be present, reasonable facility of observing the count and give them such information with respect thereto as can be given consistently with the orderly conduct of the count and the discharge of his duties in connection therewith.
(3) No person other than the Presiding Officer, the Polling Officer, any other person on duty in connection with the poll, the contesting candidates, [election agents, polling agents and election observers shall be allowed to remain] present at the count.
(4) The Presiding Officer shall-
(a) open the used ballot box or ballot boxes and count the entire lot of ballot papers taken out therefrom;
(b) open the packed labelled "challenged ballot papers" and include the ballot papers therein the count;
(c) count, in such manner as may be prescribed, the votes cast in favour of each contesting candidate excluding from the count the ballot papers which bear-
[(i) no official mark and signature;]
(ii) any writing or any mark other than the official mark and the prescribed mark or to which a piece of paper or any other object of any kind has been attached;
(iii) no prescribed mark indicating the contesting candidate for whom the elector has voted; or
(iv) any mark from which it is not clear for whom the elector has voted, provided that a ballot paper shall be deemed to have been marked in favour of a candidate if the whole or more than half of the area of the prescribed mark appears clearly within the space containing the name and symbol of that candidate; and where the prescribed mark is divided equally between two such spaces, the ballot paper shall be deemed not to show clearly for whom the elector has voted.
(5) The Presiding Officer may recount the votes-
(a) of his own motion if he considers it necessary; or
(b) [upon the request in writing] of a contesting candidate or an election agent or polling agent present if, in his opinion, the request is not unreasonable.
(6) The valid ballot papers cast in favour of each contesting candidate shall be put in separate packets and each such packet shall be sealed and shall contain a certificate as to the number of ballot papers put in it and shall also indicate the nature of the contents thereof, specifying the name and symbol of the contesting candidate to whom the packet relates.
(7) The ballot papers excluded from the count shall be put in a separate packet indicating thereon the total number of ballot papers contained therein.
(8) The packets mentioned in clause (6) and (7) shall be put in a principal packet which shall be seated by the Presiding Officer.
(9) The Presiding Officer shall, immediately after the count, prepare a statement of the count in such form as may be prescribed showing therein [,in both words and figures,] the number of valid votes polled by each contesting candidate and the ballot paper excluded from the count.
(10) The Presiding Officer shall also prepare in the prescribed form a ballot paper account showing separately-
(a) the number of ballot papers entrusted to him;
(b) the number of ballot papers taken out of the ballot box or boxes and counted;
(c) the number of tendered ballot papers;
(d) the number of challenged ballot papers;
(e) the number of un issued ballot papers; and
(f) the number of spoilt ballot papers.
[(11) The Presiding Officer shall [***] give a certified copy of the statement of the count and the ballot-paper account, showing the numbers in both words and figures, to such of the candidates, their election agents or polling agents as may be present, and obtain a receipt for such copy, and if any such person refuses to give any receipt, the Presiding Officer shall record that fact.]
(12) The Presiding Officer shall seal in separate packets-
(a) un-issued ballot papers;
(b) spoilt ballot papers;
(c) tendered ballot papers;
(d) challenged ballot papers;
(e) the marked copies of the electoral rolls;
(f) counterfoils of used ballot papers;
(g) the tendered votes list;
[(gg) ballot box issue forms showing the total number of ballot boxes issue and used.]
(h) the challenged votes list; and
(i) such other papers as the Returning Officer may direct.
[(13) The Presiding Officer shall obtain on each statement and packet prepared under this Article the signature of such of the contesting candidates or their election agents or polling agents as may be present, and if any such person refuses to sign, the Presiding Officer shall record that fact.]
(14) A person entitled to sign a packet or statement under clause (13) may, if he so desires, also affix his seal to it.
(15) After the close of the proceedings under the foregoing clause the Presiding Officer shall, in compliance with such instructions as may be given by the Commission in this behalf, cause the packets, the statement of the count and the ballot paper account prepared by him to be sent to the Returning Officer together with such other records as the Commission may direct [, and shall also send a copy of the statement of the count to the Commission by post.]