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EC rule on agents

POLL PITCH

Bhopal, May 5 (PTI): The Election Commission today clarified that central and state ministers, MPs and MLAs cannot be appointed counting agents irrespective of whether they have security cover. The list also includes mayors, chairpersons and presidents of nagar palikas, zila parishads, panchayats and unions.

The directive came in response to a clarification sought by Puducherry’s chief electoral officer, who wanted to know whether any MLA or MP without security cover can be appointed an agent.

The commission had, in an earlier order, barred any minister with armed security from becoming agents. The panel had then said that armed personnel may lead to unwanted incidents and seriously influence the electoral process.

Paid news

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said the Election Commission was empowered to disqualify candidates who fudge accounts and conceal poll-related expenses. The apex court said Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, empowers the poll panel to “embark upon the issue of alleged incorrectness or falsity of the return of election expenses maintained” by the candidates.

A bench made the observation while dismissing a petition filed by former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan challenging the panel’s power to probe a complaint against him for alleged fudging of expenses and resorting to paid news to win the Bhokar seat during the 2009 Assembly elections. The court directed the panel to probe the complaint within 45 days.