Two separate benches of the Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notices to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Law Minister Somnath Bharti on election petitions seeking quashing of their election on grounds that they exceeded the poll expense limit of Rs 14 lakh.
The election petitions were filed by BJP’s Vijender Gupta and Arti Mehra, both of whom lost the Assembly election in 2013.
The court of Justice G S Sistani issued the notice to Bharti on the plea filed by Mehra, while Gupta’s plea against Kejriwal was heard by the court of Justice Vipin Sanghi. Both the courts have asked the AAP leaders to reply to the petitions in three weeks and fixed February 25 as the next date of hearing.
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The pleas filed by the BJP leaders allege that the AAP submitted “falsified” affidavits of poll expenses to the Election Commission and failed to account for the expenses for the Vote For Change/Rock the Vote concert that the party had organised at Jantar Mantar on November 23.
While the AAP had claimed that all performances at the concert had been “voluntary” and no money had been paid to the performers, senior advocate Satya Pal Jain, the counsel for the BJP leaders, informed the court that under the Representation of People Act, “notional expenses” had to be added for calculating the total expenditure on the elections.
“…The stand of Kejriwal and AAP that the artists/celebrities have not charged for performing in the concert for being associated with the party is factually wrong and, hence, not acceptable as per the guidelines of the Election Commission… If such explanation is accepted, then every candidate will organise similar events in the name of ‘good cause’ to influence/target voters and will get away by breaching the monetary ceiling imposed by the Election Commission for conducting free and fair elections of candidates,” the petitions stated.
The BJP leaders have also alleged that the inquiry committee set up by the EC in December too had come to the conclusion that the concert had cost over Rs 39 lakh.