The Election Expenditure Cell has issued notices to six candidates — one from Shirur and five from Maval — for discrepancies in the expenditure accounts furnished by them. The six are Nationalist Congress Party’s Shirur candidate Devdutt Nikam and Maval candidates Rahul Narvekar (NCP), Shrirang Barne (Shiv Sena ), Laxman Jagtap (Peasant’s Party of India), R Kadale (Independent) and Rajendra Kate (Independent).
The cell did not find discrepancies in the accounts of any candidate contesting from Pune and Baramati. There were a total of 71 candidates in the fray from the four Parliamentary constituencies in Pune district.
Election Expenditure Cell Nodal Officer N G Kolte said though notices had been sent to the six candidates, there would be a final check and assessment of all the expenses after May 16. The report will be readied and submitted to the cell observer who will then forward it to the Election Commission. “The entire expenses will be studied and the final decision on disqualification of candidates will rest with the EC,” said Kolte.
With the Supreme Court Monday giving the Election Commission authority to disqualify a candidate for furnishing false accounts of election expenditure, the final assessment of these candidates will be done 30 days after counting on May 16. “We would call for a final assessment after the election observers for expenses come to check these accounts,” said Kolte.
The apex court Monday held that it was well within the jurisdiction of the EC to hold an inquiry into the accounts and order disqualification if a candidate was found to have furnished false accounts of expenditure or indulged in paid news.
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The bench held that EC could disqualify a candidate for three years as per provisions in the Representation of the People’s Act and the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. According to the court, such an interpretation of the laws was necessary to ensure free and fair elections and also provide level-playing field to all candidates.
The nodal officers checked if the candidates had opened separate accounts, whether the registers were maintained and if the amounts put forth were correct. The EC had allowed each candidate to spend up to Rs 70 lakh on campaigning.