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Election Commission conducts final hearing in Chavan `paid news` case

PTI | Last Updated: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 22:54

New Delhi: Election Commission on Monday conducted the final hearing in the case of alleged "paid news" and furnishing of "incorrect" election accounts against former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
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 heard the final arguments from both the sides and a final decision in this regard has been reserved.

"Today was the last day of arguments in this case. We had detailed arguments where both the sides gave their statements. The Commission has reserved its order," Chavan`s lawyer Abhimanyu Bhandari told PTI after over three hours of hearing at the EC headquarters here.

Bhandari said the team of lawyers representing Chavan told the EC bench that there was "no evidence" against the former CM and "no case was made out" against him.

From the complainants side, former Maharashtra minister Madhavrao Kinhalkar said they presented all their evidence to the EC and were hopeful of a favourable verdict from the poll panel.

Sources said the EC has now asked both the sides to submit their replies on the arguments held today and once this is done in the next few days, the EC is expected to deliver a final order.

The Commission had last month framed five charges against Chavan who recently won Lok Sabha polls from Nanded in Maharashtra.

The EC, on the directions of the Supreme Court, had issued a notice to Chavan in May last 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, in the same order, had given a free hand to the Commission to enquire into complaints of `paid news` or incorrect expenses against a political leader.

One of the charges framed by EC in Chavan`s case state that the hearing would be held 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".

Other charges framed 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 Representation 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 poll panel is carrying out similar proceedings against former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

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

Both the leaders had challenged EC`s action, denying any wrongdoing.

In Koda`s case, EC has asked him to appear for 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 Independent MP from West Singhbum constituency in Jharkhand in 2009.

First Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 22:54
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