Why Koda is still an MP

New Delhi, Feb. 1: Scam tainted Madhu Koda continues to remain an "honourable" member of Parliament, taking advantage of a Supreme Court stay on a disqualification notice slapped on him by the Election Commission for having allegedly fudged expenses during his election to the Lok Sabha in 2009.

Dispelling the notion that the poll panel was "soft" on the former chief minister, who is in jail fighting money laundering charges, the commission's legal adviser today said their hands were tied because of the apex court order.

"The Supreme Court has put an interim stay on our notice. What can we do? How can we act?" said S.K. Mendiratta, legal adviser to the commission, when asked why it had kept quiet after serving a disqualification notice to Koda way back in October 2010 and thereafter in January 2011.

The commission had served a notice to Koda and threatened him with disqualification for allegedly hiding actual election expenses incurred by him.

The statutory limit, as stipulated by the commission, for a candidate's expenditure in a Lok Sabha election was Rs 25 lakh. But, Koda, the commission alleged, had shown his expenses to be far less than the Rs 10 core he actually spent in violation of poll guidelines.

The commission's actions were based on Koda's income tax returns. An investigation conducted by the IT department based on Koda's IT returns showed that the former chief minister had spent over Rs 9 crore. "You are hereby called upon to show cause why you should not be disqualified under section 10A of the Representation of Peoples Act for your failure to lodge the true accounts of your election expenses," the commission's notice said.

Koda petitioned Delhi High Court that dismissed his plea. Thereafter, he approached the Supreme Court in May 2012. The apex court sought the commission's response on Koda's plea within four weeks.

However, the case hasn't been heard and the commission claimed the "interim stay" constrained it from initiating action against the MP. "He (Koda) challenged the commission's notice in the Supreme Court. EC cannot act till his petition is disposed," the commission's counsel in the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Arora, explained.

nKoda aide quizzed, Page 6

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