EC to hear paid news case against Ashok Chavan

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday decided to go ahead with the hearing of the paid news case relating to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, rejecting his contention that it has no power to do so.

In an order, the EC said that it can inquire into the case, dismissing preliminary objections raised by Chavan`s counsel Abishek Singhvi, who argued that the EC has no power to go into the issue as a petition was already pending in the high court.

Commission sources said that it would now go ahead with the hearing in the case which sought disqualification of Chavan as member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Earlier, Singhvi wanted the Commission to dismiss the complaint as "non-maintainable", contending it had no jurisdiction to hear it. Any complaint on disqualification of the candidate had to be filed only in the appropriate court as an election petition, he had argued.

A complaint filed before Commission by Madhav Kinhalkar, an Independent candidate who lost the Bhokar Assembly seat, challenged Chavan`s claim that he had spent around Rs 11,000 on placing advertisements during his election campaign.

The complaint said that Chavan paid money to some Marathi and Hindi newspapers during the 2009 elections to write in his favour. He also did not account properly in his expenditure return the money paid to the newspapers for such advertisements which were masqueraded as news items, it said.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had also petitioned the Commission on the issue.