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EC frames charges against Ashok Chavan in paid news case

MUMBAI: The Election Commission (EC) has framed five charges against former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in the paid news case.

The EC has asked the complainants in the case to furnish all evidence in the form of affidavits to the poll panel by 4 June. In its order, the apex court had given a free hand to the Commission to inquire into complaints of ‘paid news’ or incorrect expenses against a political leader.

The EC’s full panel comprising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) VS Sampath and Election Commissioners HS Brahma and SNA Zaidi will hold the next hearing in the case on 9 June. It has also asked Chavan to produce evidence as rebuttal to the ones produced by the complainants by 9 June.

One of the charges framed by the EC in this case states that the hearing would be done to find if the alleged ‘paid news’ instances were ‘incurred or authorised by the respondent (Chavan) or by his election agent or by any other person with the consent or knowledge of the respondent or of his election agent’.

As per reports, the most important charge framed against Chavan is that whether he is liable to be disqualified for a three-year period for having violated Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (read with section 77 & 78).

The complainants against Chavan include former Maharashtra minister Madhavrao Kinhalkar and BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Kirit Somaiya.

Earlier, the EC on the directions of the Supreme Court had issued a notice to Chavan to appear before it in connection with the case of alleged expenses made by him during the 2009 polls which were categorised as ‘paid news’.

Chavan recently won the Lok Sabha polls from Nanded constituency of Maharashtra. He will lose his seat in case charges for having allegedly given incorrect accounts of his poll expenses during the 2009 state assembly polls are proven.