Sunday 11 May 2014

Latest judgment relating to paid news

Supreme Court: A bench of Surinder Singh Nijjar and Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, JJ dismissed an appeal against the order of Delhi High Court in which the High Court, while dealing with the case relating to ‘paid’ news, had concluded that the Election Commission was well within it's jurisdiction under Section 10A of Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Act) to go into the question of alleged incorrectness or falsity of the election expenses maintained under Section 77(1) and (2) and lodged by the accused under Section 78 of the Act. The court reasoned that the maintenance of account of the election expenses is not an empty formality and that the Court cannot turn a blind eye and state that Section 77(1) and (3), as well as 78 of the Act would be relevant only for the purpose of ascertaining the corrupt practices under Section 123(6) of the Act. In fact, it was held that
ascertainment of the requirement under Section 77(3) of the Act viz the expenses incurred, should not exceed the limit prescribed and that it should be for both the purpose of an enquiry under Section 10A of the Act, as well as in the event where candidates exceed the limit through corrupt practices for the purpose of invalidating the election. Therefore, the requirement under Section 77(3) of the Act has got twin objectives to be fulfilled.
Carrying on from this, the Court condemned 'paid' news which, in the present case, had been the cause of irregularity with regards to the filing of returns after election. It was held to fall under the 'gross irregularities' with regards to the filing of returns of the elected candidate and the disqualification was upheld. Finally, with regards to election petitions, it was said that even if the petition had been rejected for want of particulars, a complaint under Section 10A could still be pursued. [Ashok Shankarrao Chavan v. Dr. Madhavrao Kinhalkar, Civil Appeal No. 5044 of 2014, decided on May 05, 2014]
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