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EC may frame charges against Ashok Chavan in paid news case

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The Election Commission (EC) is likely to frame charges against former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Friday in connection with the alleged ‘paid news’ and furnishing of “incorrection” election accounts case against him.

Chavan, who recently won the Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket from Nanded, will be represented by a team of lawyers after he informed the EC that his “authorised” counsel will appear before the poll body in response to its summons issued to him last week.

“Chavan has asked for framing of charges in this case by the EC against him. The Commission will conduct a hearing in this regard tomorrow in the presence of the former CM’s lawyers,” sources privy to the development said.

A similar case of furnishing allegedly false election accounts by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda has been postponed till May 26, the sources said.

The EC, on the directions of the Supreme Court, had issued a notice to Chavan last week to appear before it in connection with the case of alleged expenses made by him during the 2009 polls which were categorised as “paid news”.

The apex court had, in its earlier order, given a free hand to the Commission to inquire into complaints of ‘paid news’ or incorrect expenses against a political leader.

A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik had dismissed the plea of Chavan challenging the Commission’s jurisdiction to inquire into such issues.

The apex court had directed the Commission to inquire into the complaint against Chavan within 45 days.

The EC, post complaints made against the two political leaders, had initiated disqualification procedures against them under the Representation of the People Act.

Both the leaders had challenged the EC’s action as they denied any wrongdoing.

In the second case, the EC has asked Koda to appear for the hearing, either in person or through an authorised counsel, with regard to a case against him for allegedly furnishing false election expenditure records after the 2009 polls.

The poll body had last conducted a hearing in Chavan’s case in May 2012.

The apex court had passed an order on May 5 this year on an appeal filed by Chavan challenging the Delhi High Court verdict which had refused to grant any relief to Chavan on the issue of ‘paid news’.

In the case of Koda, who was elected as an independent MP from West Singhbum constituency in Jharkhand in 2009, the EC had in October, 2010 issued a notice to him asking him why he should not be disqualified on the ground that he had shown the election expenses far less than the actual amount of nearly Rs 10 crore allegedly spent by him.

The Commission had said it found that Koda had made an expenditure of about Rs 10 crore during his election campaign against Rs 25 lakh as stipulated under the EC guidelines for parliamentary polls that time.

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