The Delhi high court on Friday gave the green signal to the Election Commission to probe Ashok Chavan and Madhu Koda, former chief ministers of Maharashtra and Jharkhand respectively, in connection with alleged discrepancies in their poll expenditure accounts.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna gave the order while dismissing the pleas of Chavan and Koda challenging the poll panel's power to proceed against them.
Chavan is a legislator from Maharashtra while Koda, currently lodged in Jharkhand jail for his alleged role in a money laundering and corruption case, is a Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Singhbhum in Jharkhand.
"The (Election) Commission can go into the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the accounts filed by the elected candidates," the court said.
"The commission has correctly appreciated and understood the law laid down therein and therefore we concur with the view expressed by it. The writ petition being devoid of merit stands dismissed," the bench said, citing various apex court rulings.
The EC had begun proceedings against Chavan on a complaint by BJP leaders and others, alleging he had shown a poll expenditure of merely Rs 11,000 in the 2009 assembly elections despite allegedly paying huge sums of money to various newspapers for a favourable coverage of his poll campaign.
The EC had begun proceedings against Koda for his alleged failure to submit his poll expense account in a 2009 by-election.
On the basis of a complaint by BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and others, the poll panel had on April 2 decided to proceed against Chavan over the issue of "paid news" in some Hindi and Marathi newspapers.
Chavan moved the high court challenging the poll panel's decision to proceed against him, contending that it has no power to do so.
Koda, in a separate petition, had challenged the EC notice of October 7, 2010 and January 26, 2011, threatening him with disqualification for allegedly not filing detailed accounts about his poll expenses during the 2009 elections.
Koda, who has been in jail since his arrest in November 2009, had said that the Commission has issued notice to him on the basis of IT returns filed by him in 2009 and sought quashing of the notice.
According to the petition, Koda was elected as an independent MP in 2009 and in October 2010, the Election Commission had issued a notice to him, asking him why he should not be disqualified as he had shown election expenses much lesser than the actual amount of nearly Rs 19 lakh.