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HC issues notice to Ashok Chavan on plea against quashing EC order

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today issued notice to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on a plea against its single bench decision setting aside the Election Commission's order holding him guilty of filing incorrect expenses for the 2009 Assembly elections.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw sought Chavan's response by October 31 on the plea challenging the high court's September 12 verdict quashing the EC's order and show cause notice issued to him in which he was given 20 days to respond to the allegations.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan

The court has also issued notice to the EC on a fresh interim application moved by independent candidate Madhavrao Kinhalkar who alleged that the Commission was not made party to the case before the single bench while deciding the issue.

On September 12, the high court had set aside the EC order and show cause notice issued to Chavan saying the poll panel failed to comply with the Conduct of Elections Rules, according to which a candidate is entitled to an opportunity of an explanation within 20 days on whether expenses disclosed by him are correct, prior to giving a finding.

While challenging the high court's verdict, the plea said the court had "erroneously set aside the well reasoned show cause notice issued by the EC to Chavan in which he was given 20 days to respond" to the allegations.

The court had observed that issuance of show cause notice was rendered only an "idle formality" and only a ritual of passing a consequential order was left.

The single judge bench of the high court had said that Chavan had "duly accounted" for expenditure on advertisements that were in his knowledge and if publishers of the ads in question did not bring it to his notice then "he could not be expected or required to account for those expenditures".

While appearing for Kinhalkar today, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan sought early hearing and disposal of the plea on the ground that earlier the Supreme Court had also asked the single judge bench to decide Chavan's plea within 15 days.

On July 24, Chavan had moved the high court against EC's July 13 order seeking that it be set aside to the extent that it holds that he had failed to lodge the poll expense account in the time and manner required under the law. He had also sought quashing of the show cause notice.

The poll panel, in its order, had given Chavan, an MP from Nanded parliamentary seat, a 20-day deadline to respond to the show cause notice which was issued after it found him guilty of failing to "lodge his account of election expenses in the manner required by the (Representation of the People) Act and Rules".

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