The Supreme Court Monday said that the Election Commission was empowered to inquire into the allegation of paid news if the expenses for the same are not being reflected in the election return filed by the candidate.
The apex court bench of Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla said this while dismissing a plea by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan.
Having held that EC can inquire into the allegation, the court dismissed the plea by Chavan who had challenged the Delhi High Court order, holding that the commission can inquire into the allegations of paid news if same was not disclosed by the candidate in his election expanses returns.
The court said that EC will hold day to day hearing and decide the complaint in 45 days.
Chavan, in 2009 assembly election had won from Bhokar assembly seat in Nanded, by a margin of 1.25 lakh votes. His opponent, independent candidate Madhav Kinhalkar, filed a complaint with EC, accusing him of hiding expenses on a 'paid' supplement titled 'Ashok Parva' (The era of Ashok) in a leading Marathi daily.
Chavan and the daily's management denied the allegation saying that the supplement was not a paid one.
EC probed into Kinhalkar's allegations. Delhi High Court in 2010 declined Chavan's plea seeking the stay of the Election Commission proceedings. He then moved the apex court in November 2011.