EC concludes hearing in paid news case involving Ashok Chavan

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Thursday concluded oral hearing on a case seeking to disqualify Ashok Chavan as member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on the "paid news component" of his poll campaign.

A complaint filed before the Election Commission by Madhav Kinhalkar, an Independent candidate who lost the Bhokar Assembly poll, challenged Chavan's claim that he had spent around Rs 11,000 on placing advertisements during his election campaign.

Chavan received coverage in newspapers with advertisements in the garb of news, the complaint says. The EC had issued notice to Chavan in January last year in the case and the hearings had begun in July last year.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had also petitioned the Commission on the issue.

Chavan's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Commission had given 15 days for both the sides to make written submissions following which it would decide on the date of the verdict.

Singhvi also questioned the jurisdiction of the Election Commission to inquire into the issue of paid news contending that such charges should be inquired only by the High Court. The EC places an expenditure ceiling of Rs 25 lakh per candidate for Lok Sabha elections and Rs 10 lakh for state Assembly elections. Candidates are required to submit election expense reports thrice during the entire election period.