The Election Commission of India on Friday started hearing a case seeking to disqualify Chief Minister Ashok Chavan as member of Legislative Assembly.
The petitioners sought Chavan’s disqualification on the ground that he had published paid advertisements in the media during the 2009 Assembly election campaign.
The EC dismissed Chavan’s counsel Abhishek Singhvi’s argument that the commission did not have authority to hear this particular case. The full three-member commission, comprising its chief Navin Chawla and his associates S.Y. Qureshi and V.S. Sampath, took a tough stance and continued with the hearing.
The complainants have challenged Chavan’s claim that he had spent around Rs 11,000 on placing advertisements during his election campaign. “Chavan received coverage worth much more in newspapers with advertisements in the form of news,” the complaint says.
The CM did not personally appear before the commission in New Delhi because of official reasons. The next hearing is on July 22. Chavan’s independent opponent in the Bhokar Assembly poll, Madhav Kinhalkar, who had filed a petition in the high court challenging the election, has also moved the EC and presented his case on Friday.
Chavan beat Kinhalkar by a margin of more than one lakh votes, the highest in the state.
Another petitioner, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya, said he was happy to know that the EC was acting like a judicial body.
“We have submitted all proof and necessary documents to the EC. Our argument, which is primarily based on incorrect return of poll expenditure filed by Chavan, will continue further.”
The matter was taken up by the Press Council of India that recorded Chavan and others' statements earlier this year.