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EC tells HC it will publicise candidates' dues

March 11, 2004 05:03 IST
Last Updated: March 11, 2004 05:15 IST

The Election Commission March 10 informed the Delhi High Court that it is taking adequate steps to honour the Court's direction to give publicity to power and telephone dues pending against candidates in the coming general elections.

A total of 656 sitting and former MPs of both houses owe Rs 11.18 crore to the state-owned MTNL while 669 MPs owe Rs 6.32 crore to the NDMC towards water and electricity bills.

Maintaining that the Commission has modified the format of affidavit relating to government dues owed by candidates, the EC told a Bench comprising Chief Justice B C Patel and Justice B D Ahmed that a circular in this regard has been forwarded to the Electoral Officers of all the States.

"The Commission has directed that information furnished by the contesting candidates in relation to the dues to the Government department, i.e dealing with accomodation, water, electricity, telephone and transport, including aircrafts and helicopters and other dues, should be published by Returning Officers concerned in at least two newspapers having local circulation, one of which should be a vernacular newspaper," the EC's affidavit said.

The EC said the information would be published within two days after preparing the list of contesting candidates.

The Commission's action was in compliance with the March 1 order of the High Court asking the EC to seek affidavits from candidates, including MPs, contesting the coming Lok Sabha polls regarding arrears due from them towards such facilities and give it "full publicity".

Meanwhile, MTNL, NDMC and ITDC informed the Court that they have started realizing the dues. The Court is hearing a PIL filed in 1998 by Krishak Bharat seeking direction to the above agencies to recover their dues running into crores of rupees from politicians and political parties. The next date of hearing has been fixed for March 24.

The Court, however, had clarified that the candidates would not be required to obtain "no dues" certificates from the departments concerned and produce the same before the

Returning Officer while filing their nomination papers.

The Court had also issued notices to the Secretaries General of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha asking why the arrears in telephone, electricity and water bills of sitting and former MPs were not deducted from their salary, allowances and pension as permissible under the relevant rules.

The information to be furnished by candidates relate to outstanding bills for facilities of telephone, electricity, water, accommodation and vehicle availed of by them beyond the limits permissible under rules.

According to documents supplied by MTNL and NDMC to the High Court, veteran Congress leader from West Bengal A B A Ghani Khan Chaudhary tops the list with over Rs 41.31 lakh in telephone dues and more than Rs 30 lakh in power bills. Chaudhary has challenged the bills in court, saying he had overpaid his dues.

Among other leaders who have defaulted on their power bills are BJP leader Jai Narain Prasad Nishad (Rs 12.18 lakh), former Prime Ministers Chandrashekhar (Rs 7.1 lakh) and H D Deve Gowda (Rs 76,772), LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan (Rs 1.54 lakh) and RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (Rs 1.15 lakh).

The Indian Youth Congress figures at the top of the list of political parties with telephone dues of over Rs 26.21 lakh.

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