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HC stays EC order against Ashok Chavan

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The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed the operation of the show cause notice issued by the Election Commission to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan asking him why he should not be disqualified for not filing his 2009 assembly election expenses in the manner required under the Representation of the People Act and the Rules.

The Commission in its July 13 order slapping the notice had said “it is quite clear that despite knowledge and awareness on his part, Mr. Chavan did not show the expenditure made on the publication of 25 advertisements in his account of election expenses. He has thus failed to lodge the account of his election expenses in the manner required by or under the law.” Mr. Chavan was given 20 days to reply to the show cause notice.

Assailing the EC order, Mr. Chavan approached the High Court contending that the Commission had not followed the procedure laid out in the Representation of the People Act prior to giving its findings, as no opportunity to file a revised poll expenses was provided to him.

Justice Suresh Kait, after hearing senior counsel and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr. Chavan, stayed the Commission’s notice. The Judge also issued notice returnable on November 5 to BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kirit Somaiya and independent candidate Madhavrao Kinhalkar, who had filed the complaint against Chavan in the commission.

Mr. Sibal argued that Mr. Chavan had filed all the correct poll expenses and had incurred an expenditure of Rs 6.85 lakhs in the 2009 Assembly elections. He wanted the court to set aside the EC order to the extent that it held that Mr. Chavan had failed to lodge the poll expense account in the time and manner required under the law.

Senior counsel Jayant Bhushan, appearing for one of the complainants opposed the court granting stay stating that it would frustrate the Supreme Court judgment empowering the Commission to take action against Mr. Chavan. The court however, stayed the order.

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