Giving temporary relief to the senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, the Delhi High Court, on Monday, stayed Election Commission's show cause notice issued against Chavan. The Election Commission had issued a notice to Chavan, saying why he should not be disqualified for providing incorrect details of his 2009 poll expenses.
The High Court had also issued notice to BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Kirit Somaiya and one independent candidate who had filed complaint against Chavan.
Chavan had challenged the EC’s notice saying that the commission did not followed the procedure laid out in the Representation of People Act while issuing the notice.
Meanwhile, the complainant’s lawyer in the case, Dilip Taur said, “The court has issued a notice while hearing his petition. We are not surprised, and we will challenge it in Supreme Court. I think that this notice which has been issued is prima facie wrong.”
“We will place many of the issues that were rejected by the High Court judge in front of the Supreme Court,” Taur added.
The Election Commission on July 25 had told the Delhi High Court that being a quasi-judicial body, it will not defend its order holding Chavan guilty of failing to give his correct expenses. Chavan, an MP from Nanded parliamentary seat, had been given a 20-day deadline on July 13 to respond to a consequent show cause notice of the poll panel which has held that he has "failed to lodge his account of election expenses in the manner required by the (Representation of the People) Act and rules."
The finding of the commission, which formed the basis of the show cause notice, could pave the way for his disqualification as an MP and bar him from contesting polls for three years. EC took the stand that there is an order of the high court holding that quasi-judicial bodies, like the poll panel, not be made a party in cases where decisions of such entities are challenged.
Chavan had moved the court against the EC's July 13 order, saying the panel has not followed the procedure laid out in the Representation of People Act prior to giving its findings. He has 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). Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Chavan and argued that the ex-CM did not know who had issued the advertisements.
Chavan had won the 2009 assembly election from Bhokar in Maharashtra's Nanded Lok Sabha constituency. He won the recent Lok Sabha polls from Nanded.
During the brief hearing, Sibal also said that even the publishers of the advertisements had stated on affidavit before EC that Chavan had no knowledge about it. It was also contended that Chavan had incurred an expense of over Rs 16,000 for attending the UPA meeting that was advertised and that he had cited the same while filing his poll spendings. "Despite all this, EC issued the show cause notice and also gave its findings," Sibal said.