He wants EC to direct jail authorities to produce him before it

The Election Commission on Friday adjourned till November 11 the hearing on the complaint that Singhbhum MP and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda did not file his election expenditure account properly. There is also an allegation that he encouraged ‘paid news' during the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. Interestingly, one TV channel was paid Rs.1.25 crore to telecast news in his favour, according to an Income-Tax department report.

The full Commission — Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and Election Commissioners V.S. Sampath and H.S. Brahma — considered the letter written by Mr. Koda, now lodged in the Tihar jail in corruption cases, and adjourned the matter.

The independent MP said he could not appear before the Commission to defend himself. He was not even able to brief his lawyer on the complaint pending with the EC. He urged the Commission to direct the jail authorities to produce him before it. A senior official said the EC would examine whether it was possible to write such a letter to the Tihar authorities. “Though it is a long-pending case, the Commission wants to ensure that Mr. Koda gets an opportunity to present his version either by himself or through counsel.”

The “paid news” allegation surfaced when Enforcement Directorate and Income-Tax authorities, who raided his office and residence, found diaries with details of the amount he spent towards payment to newspapers and other media organisations for writing/telecasting reports in his favour. He allegedly paid Rs.25.76 lakh to three organisations in April 2009. Against the limit of Rs.25 lakh for the Lok Sabha poll, he allegedly spent Rs.9 crore, the IT report said in October last.

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