SC notice on Goa minister’s removal
A bench led by CJI Dipak Misra issued a notice to the Goa govt, state assembly Speaker and Election Commission on the Congress’s petition to disqualify state health minister Vishwajit Pratapsingh Raneindia Updated: Feb 09, 2018 23:59 IST
The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to look into an “important constitution question” as to whether a legislator can resign to stall the process of disqualification under the anti-defection law when he or she abstains from voting despite a party whip.
A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued a notice to the Goa government, state assembly Speaker and Election Commission on the Congress’s petition to disqualify state health minister Vishwajit Pratapsingh Rane.
The minister, who was elected on a Congress ticket, during the assembly election had abstained from voting on the floor of the House on March 16, 2017, pursuant to the top court’s directions.
By doing so, Rane defied the whip issued by the Congress.
He had signed the whip and thereafter, was administered the oath as a member of the Goa legislative assembly.
Once the floor test was conducted, Rane returned to the House at around 3.05pm and tendered his resignation, which was accepted without any inquiry by the then pro-term Speaker.
The Supreme Court brushed aside the opposition by Rane’s advocate, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who said after his resignation, Rane contested again and got elected on the BJP ticket.
He argued that disqualification under the anti-defection law would not apply on Rane.
However, the CJI said, “No, we have to examine what happens when the person or legislator resigns, the person does not obey the whip, he remains absent, whether such a matter comes under the 10th schedule? Whether an absentee legislator can derail the process of the 10th schedule by resigning?”
The petition, also challenging the Bombay HC order, will be heard after four weeks, the bench said. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress, submitted that the high court had taken an erroneous view that since Rane had resigned, the anti-defection law would not apply to him and judicial review was not permissible in the matter.