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Expenses of helicopter not included in poll return by Punjab CM

By Staff
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Chandigarh, Apr 19 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who was elected from the Patiala Town Constituency of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 2002 State elections, did not include the amount spent towards the use of helicopter for poll campaign in the election expenditure return, filed by him after the declaration of result.

This was pointed out today by the counsel for the petitioner Harkirat Singh of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) during the resumed hearing on the plea to quash the result.

The re-hearing on the election petition is now being conducted by Justice Satish Kumar Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after being sent back by the Supreme Court on the appeal filed by the petitioner.

It has been alleged by the petitioner that Capt Amarinder Singh, then the Punjab Congress Chief had resorted to corrupt practices to enhance his poll prospects and this included among others the assistance from some of the state government officers. Among others, the petitioner had listed Bharat Inder Singh Chahal at present media advisor to Chief Minister, who was then a senior officer in the public relations department.

Justice Jasbir Singh had dismissed the petition but the Apex Court ordered re-hearing observing that the petitioner had placed all facts on the record.

The allegation of failure to include in the poll expenses return, the money spent on the use of helicopter by Capt Amarinder Singh came up when the petitioner's counsel sought to summon three more witnesses related to this, including a petrol pump owner.

However, this was strongly objected to by Rajinder Singh Cheema and M L Saggar, Punjab Advocate General and Additional Advocate General respectively, who are appearing for Amarinder Singh. There were exchange of heated arguments at this stage as the counsel for the Chief Minister argued that this issue was beyond pleas. The counsel for the petitioner pointed out that it was part of the replication filed by him and as such could not be termed beyond pleas.

Three official witnesses, one each from the offices of the District Election Officer, Patiala, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab and the State Public Relations Department were examined today.

While the official of the District Election Office, Patiala provided details of expenditure incurred by Amarinder Singh, the nominee of Punjab CEO submitted two files relating to complaints received against BIS Chahal,including a complaint by another former Public Relations Officer Jagdeep Singh Chauhan.

The witness from the state Public Relations Department submitted three files plus a video cassette which was sent to the department alongwith the complaint against Chahal.

The hearing has been adjourned to May three when Justice Mittal would decide about the plea to summon or not to summon the witnesses pertaining to helicopter expenses issue.

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