The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a petition by the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Shankarrao Chavan, challenging an order by the Election Commission that it had the jurisdiction to inquire into alleged irregularities in the account of election expenses filed by him under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Mr. Chavan had submitted the account to the Commission after his election to the Maharashtra Assembly in 2009.
Dismissing the petition, a Division Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Sanjiv Khanna said: “…the writ petition, being devoid of merit, stands dismissed.”
The Commission had passed the order in 2010 when Mr. Chavan challenged the notice issued to him on a bunch of complaints alleging inaccuracy in the account of election expenses submitted by him. The complainants had sought an inquiry into the allegations.
At the time of lodging of the complaints with the Commission, Mr. Chavan had been Chief Minister. He had been elected to the State Assembly from the Bhokar constituency in 2009.
Not replying to the notice, Mr. Chavan had challenged the Commission's jurisdiction to go into the correctness or falsity of the account of his election expenses.
Before the High Court, counsel for Mr. Chavan reiterated the argument that the Commission could only make an enquiry with regard to the filing of the accounts. It did not have the power to prove its correctness or falsity, he submitted.
The power to set aside an election account was vested with the High Court under the Act, and if jurisdiction was conferred on the Commission to enter into the veracity of the truth and falsity of the accounts, there would be a dual adjudicatory process, he further submitted.
The Commission had dismissed the contention of Mr. Chavan citing a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court (L.R. Shivaramegowda v. T.M. Chandrashekar, AIR 1999 SC 252), which says that “the Commission can go into the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the accounts.”
Upholding the Commission's order, the Bench said: “…We are of the considered opinion that the decision in L.R. Shivaramegowda case is a precedent in the field and the Commission has correctly appreciated and understood the law laid down therein and, therefore, we concur with the view expressed by it.”