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Relief for Ashok Chavan: HC sets aside EC order against ex-Maha CM

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today set aside the Election Commission's order holding former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan guilty of filing incorrect expenses for the 2009 Assembly elections.

The EC in its July 13 order had also issued a show cause notice to Chavan seeking his response within 20 days on why he be not disqualified for the same. "Election Commission's July 13, 2014, order is set aside," Justice Suresh Kait said. 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."

Ashok Chavan
Ashok Chavan 

In its show cause notice, the poll panel had asked Chavan why he should not be disqualified for failing to give his true and correct expenses incurred in last Assembly polls. But the high court had on July 28 stayed the Commission's show cause notice to Chavan. Earlier, former Law Minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who also represented Chavan, had contended that his client had filed all the correct poll expenses and had incurred an expenditure of Rs 6.85 lakh in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Chavan had won the 2009 Assembly polls from Bhokar in Maharashtra's Nanded Lok Sabha constituency. He won the recent Lok Sabha polls from Nanded. Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide Chavan's plea within 15 days while refusing to interfere with its July 28 decision staying the show cause notice issued to Chavan on July 13.

The apex court had said it was not in favour of the matter dragging and that the high court should decide the question of law. Independent candidate Madhavrao Kinhalkar, who had filed the complaint against Chavan in the Commission, had submitted before the apex court that "prima facie the high court has not given reasons for staying the EC order".

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. Chavan had alleged that the panel had not followed the procedure laid out in the Representation of People Act prior to giving its findings.

He had also said that the expenses that he had allegedly not declared pertained to some advertisements that were
released in October 2009 regarding a meeting that was to be held between the members of United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

On July 25, EC had told the high court that being a quasi-judicial body, it will not defend its order passed against Chavan. Pursuant to this submission, the court had deleted the poll panel from the list of parties in the case.

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