New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday slapped a notice on BJP leader Gopinath Munde seeking an explanation for his statement that he had spent Rs 8 crore in the 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign, which is way above the prescribed limit of Rs.25 lakh.
The EC has asked Munde to explain within 20 days why action should not be initiated against him under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and why he should not be disqualified under the Representation of People Act for allegedly suppressing and undervaluing his poll campaign expenditure.
The prescribed limit of poll campaign expenditure during the 2009 parliamentary election was Rs 25 lakh.
Munde, who is an MP from Beed and BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, had on June 27 said during a book launch function in Mumbai that he had spent a whopping Rs 8 crore during his 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari were also present.
Munde while talking about his long electioneering career and bemoaning the increasing cost of contesting elections, had said, "I spent Rs 29,000 when I contested my first Assembly poll in 1980. Rs 8 crore were spent for my last (2009 Lok Sabha) election."
"The reasons for the said default should be explained by you in writing and your explanation should reach the Commission within 20 days from the date of receipt of this notice.
"ln case, you fail to do so, within the time stipulated above, you will render yourself liable, without any further reference to you in the matter, for disqualification under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament or of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State or Union Territory for a period of 3 years from the date of order of the Commission declaring you to be so disqualified," the EC notice to him said.
The EC notice said that the election expenditure shown by Munde in the 2009 elections was only Rs 19,36,922 as per the account of election expenses maintained under Section 77 of the RP Act, 1951 and lodged on June 8, 2009. "Whereas, it is evident from the above that, as per your own admission in public, you in fact spent Rs 8 crores as your election expenditure and thus, you did not maintain a true account of your election expenses as required under Section 77 of the RP Act, 1951 and, therefore the account lodged by you under section 78 of the RP Act, 1951, is not in the manner required by law."
"Now, therefore, under sub rule (5) of Rule 89 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the Election Commission hereby gives you notice to show cause why you should not be disqualified under section 10A of the RP Act, 1951 for your failure to maintain a true and correct account of your election expenses as required by law, for not lodging the true account of your election expenditure by suppressing/ undervaluing the said expenditure, and thus having failed to lodge your account of election expenses in the manner required by law," the EC notice further said.
Section 10A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, says that a person can be disqualified for failure to lodge account of election expenses - "If the Election Commission is satisfied (a) has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by or under this Act, and (b) has no good reason or justification for the failure, the Election Commission shall, by order published in the Official Gazette, declare him to be disqualified and any such person shall be disqualified for a period of three years from the date of the order."
Sources said the Election Commission took possession of the CD of his speech and transcribed it before sending him a notice.
Congress leaders earlier demanded that Munde be disqualified from Parliament and asked the Election Commission to initiate action against him.