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EC to resume hearing in Chavan, Koda poll expenses case

The Election Commission is expected to resume hearing on Monday in the alleged ‘paid news’ case and furnishing of “incorrect” election accounts case against former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

The poll panel had last month framed charges against Chavan on the basis of which the case will now be heard and decided by the full bench of the EC comprising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) V S Sampath and Election Commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi.

The EC had earlier asked the complainants in this case, former Maharashtra minister Madhavrao Kinhalkar and BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kirit Somaiya, to furnish all their evidence “in the form of affidavits” to the poll-panel by June 4.

“I have submitted all my complaint documents to the EC,” Kinhalkar told PTI. With the evidence from the complainants coming in, officials said, the EC is expected to resume hearing.

Chavan, who recently won Lok Sabha polls from Nanded constituency of Maharashtra, too had been asked to produce evidence “in rebuttal” of the evidence produced by the complainants before the hearing commences tomorrow.

The poll body is also expected to take up a similar case against former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda on Monday.

The EC had on the directions of the Supreme Court issued a notice to Chavan sometime back 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.

One of the charges framed by the EC in Chavan’s case states that the hearing would be done to find if the alleged ‘paid news’ instances were “incurred or authorised by the respondent (Chavan) or by his election agent or by any other person with the consent or knowledge of the respondent or of his election agent”.

Among the other framed charges against Chavan include “whether the respondent (Chavan) is liable to be disqualified for his above failure (of furnishing correct election expenses accounts) by the Election Commission under section 10A of Represenation of People Act 1951, read with sections 77 and 78 for a period of three years from the date of the order of the Commission.”

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

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

Koda 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 alleged 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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