Poll panel fails to push case against Maharastra ex-CM Ashok Chavan

In what will be some relief to the embattled former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, the Election Commission told the Delhi High Court on Friday that since it is a quasi-judicial body, it will not defend its order holding Chavan guilty of misstating his expenses in the 2009 state assembly elections.

Chavan, who went is a Lok Sabha MP from Nanded, has been accused by the EC of failing to lodge his account of election expenses ''in the manner required by the Representation of the People Act and rules."

Chavan had moved the court against the EC's 13 July order, saying the poll panel had not followed the procedure laid out in the Representation of People Act prior to giving its findings.

The finding of the commission, which formed the basis of the show cause notice could, if upheld, lead to Chavan's disqualification as an MP and bar him from contesting polls for three years.

"We will not defend our order," the counsel appearing for the poll panel submitted before a bench of Justice Suresh Kait, who thereafter deleted the Election Commission from the list of parties in the case and posted it for hearing on next Monday.

The Election Commission took the stand that there is a high court order holding that quasi-judicial bodies, like itself, should not be made a party in cases where decisions of such entities are challenged.

Chavan in his appeal has said that the expenses 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.