Goa Speaker to decide on disqualification of 10 MLAs who joined BJP on April 20
Speaker of the Goa assembly, Rajesh Patnekar, told the Supreme Court of India that his final order in the disqualification petitions, filed by the Congress party against 10 Goa BJP MLAs, will be passed by April 20. The SC bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde had earlier twice rejected the dates proposed by the speaker.
When the hearing began, solicitor general (SG) Tushar Mehta told the court that the speaker’s final orders will be delivered on April 29, however, the bench said such a late date was “not acceptable”.
“The court again asked the SG to check with the speaker whether he is able to pass the order within a weeks’ time. The SG said the speaker can do it by April 22,” said advocate Abhijit Gosavi, who represented the Congress party.
However, the court asked the SG to once again seek instructions from the Speaker whether orders could be passed latest by April 20, following which, Mehta informed the court that the order will be passed on April 20th. SC has set April 21 as the next date of hearing in the case and the judgement is expected before April 22, when the CJI retires.
The SC is hearing a plea by Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar seeking directions to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to expeditiously hear the disqualification petitions filed against 10 MLAs, who switched from the Congress to the BJP in July 2019, reducing the party’s strength in the house to five. The party claims the switch amounted to a defection under the 10th schedule of the Constitution as there was no merger of the original party.
As per the anti-defection law, two-thirds of the strength of a legislative party is allowed to merge with another without inviting disqualification. The law, amended in January 2004, does not recognise a split in a legislature party.
The then Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Goa assembly, Congress’s Chandrakant Kavlekar joined the BJP on July 10 along with nine other MLAs--Atanasio Monserrate, Jennifer Monserrate, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Nilkanth Halarnkar, Francisco Silveira, Clafasio Dias, Isidore Fernandes, Wilfred D’Sa and Tony Fernandes. Chief minister Pramod Sawant, said the 10 MLAs had merged with the BJP, increasing the strength of the party to 27 in the state assembly.