SC seeks EC response on Koda`s plea

SC sought EC`s response on Koda`s plea challenging panel`s move to disqualify him for alleged discrepancies in 2009 poll expenditure accounts.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the Election Commission`s response on former Jharkhand chief minister and MP Madhu Koda`s plea challenging the panel`s move to disqualify him for alleged discrepancies in the 2009 poll expenditure accounts submitted by him.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar while issuing the notice to the Election Commission asked counsel Meenakshi Arora to file her response within 4 weeks.

Koda had moved the apex court after the Delhi High Court on September 30, 2011, dismissed his appeal challenging the EC`s proceedings against him.

Koda, in his petition, challenged the EC`s notice of October 7, 2010 and January 26, 2011, threatening him with disqualification for allegedly not filing detailed accounts about his poll expenses during the 2009 elections.

Koda, who has been in jail since his arrest in November 2009 on graft charges, had said through his counsel Himanshu Shekhar that the Commission has issued notice to him on the basis of IT returns filed by him in 2009 and sought quashing of the notice.

According to the petition, Koda was elected as independent MP from West Singhbum Constituency in 2009 and in October 2010, he Election Commission had issued notice to him asking him as to 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 high court had earlier while dealing with Koda`s petition and similar plea of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan ruled that "the (Election) Commission can go into the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the accounts filed by the elected candidates."

The court further said, "It should be clear that there is a check with regard to the conduct of the contesting candidates as well as the elected candidates".
The Commission had said it had found that Koda had made an expenditure of about Rs 10 crore during his election campaign against the statutory limit of Rs 25 lakh, as stipulated under the EC guidelines for parliamentary polls.

"It transpires (from the investigation report of the Income Tax department) that the account of election expenses filed by you under Section 78 of the Representation of Peoples Act is not the correct amount of your election expenses...," the EC notice said.

"You are hereby called upon to show cause why you should not be disqualified under section 10A of the Representation of Peoples Act for your failure to lodge the true accounts of your election expenses in the manner required by law," it said.

According to the notice, the I-T department found that Koda had spent Rs 9,32,56,259 in his election campaign while another Rs 28,01,729 was spent by him for advertisements in newspapers and Television channels.

Koda, currently under the custody of Jharkhand Vigilance department, is facing Enforcement Directorate and I-T probes for his financial dealings.

The EC notice to Koda also contains details of the I-T searches and statements that were collated during the department`s probe.

The notice said that if Koda fails to reply within the stipulated time of 20 days then he will be "liable to be disqualified".
Koda in his poll affidavit had shown expenses of Rs 1,800 for public meetings, campaign material Rs 3,12,904, campaign through electronic and print media Rs 6,90,430, vehicles used Rs 4,89,009 and other miscellaneous expenditure at Rs 3,98,210.