New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday stayed an Election Commission of India (EC) show cause notice to former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan in a case related to election expenses.

Justice Suresh Kait has issued notice to the complainants on a writ petition filed by Chavan against the EC show cause notice.

Independent candidate Madhavrao Kinhalkar and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians Kirit Somaiya and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are the complainants.

Kinhalkar, who ran for the Bhokar assembly seat in Maharashtra that Chavan won in 2009, moved the EC the same year, alleging that Chavan had spent money for paid news that he didn’t disclose as poll-related expenses. Paid news consists of advertisements or paid-for content passed off as news or analysis.

The EC on 25 July told the Delhi high court that being a quasi-judicial body, it will not defend its order holding Chavan guilty of failing to file his correct expenses in the 2009 assembly polls, PTI reported. The EC is, accordingly, not a party in the case at present.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Chavan, contended that Chavan did not know about advertisements that had been passed off as paid news.

The EC, on 13 July, issued a show cause notice to Chavan, now a member of parliament, to respond within 20 days. The notice asked him why he should not be disqualified under the Representation of People’s Act for not filing correct accounts of election expenses “within time and in the manner required" by law.

A sum of Rs16,924 was undisclosed, the court noted in its order. Chavan could face disqualification for three years if EC is not satisfied with Chavan’s response. The stay on the EC show cause, however, keeps it in abeyance till the next high court hearing.

The case will be heard after two weeks.

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