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  4. HC upholds Goa Speaker's order dismissing pleas seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs

HC upholds Goa Speaker's order dismissing pleas seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs

Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar had also filed a similar petition before the court against its two MLAs, who joined the BJP in the same year by splitting the regional party.

PTI Reported by: PTI Panaji Published on: February 24, 2022 15:40 IST
Goa elections 2022, Bombay High Court, Goa Assembly Speaker, Goa election, MLA, BJP, Girish Chodank
Image Source : PTI

Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had on April 20 last year dismissed the disqualification petitions filed by Chodankar and Dhavalikar.

Highlights

  • Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president had filed a disqualification petition against 10 party MLAs
  • Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had on April 20 dismissed the disqualification petitions
  • The 10 MLAs deserved to be declared as disqualified from holding membership of their original party

The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the Goa Assembly Speaker's order dismissing two petitions seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs who left their respective parties and joined the ruling BJP in 2019. Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar had filed a disqualification petition against 10 party MLAs who switched over to the BJP in July 2019.

Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar had also filed a similar petition before the court against its two MLAs, who joined the BJP in the same year by splitting the regional party.

Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had on April 20 last year dismissed the disqualification petitions filed by Chodankar and Dhavalikar.

On Thursday, a division bench of Justices Manish Pitale and R N Laddha said the two petitions stand dismissed. “The petitioners have not been able to make out a case for interference in the impugned orders passed by the Speaker," the HC said.

“We hold the disqualification petitions filed by the petitioners were correctly dismissed by the Speaker,” the bench said. The court also said that the order passed by the Speaker rejecting the disqualification petitions "cannot be said to be militating against the object of introduction of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution on the touchstone of political and constitutional morality".

Chodankar had in his petition filed before the Speaker pleaded that all the 10 MLAs “deserved to be declared as disqualified from holding membership of their original party, the Indian National Congress, thereby attracting disqualification under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.” The MGP too had filed the petition on the same ground.

Senior lawyer Vivek Tankha, appearing on behalf of Chodankar, had pleaded before the HC that the Speaker erred in interpreting paragraph four of the Constitution's Tenth Schedule. He had argued that the Schedule contemplates 'twin test' for arriving at a conclusion regarding merger of the original political party.

According to Tanka, such a merger would be complete and protect a House member from being disqualified, when there was a merger of the original political party and two-third members of the legislature party agreed with such a merger. He argued that the “twin test is contemplated in the Tenth Schedule to ensure that objects and reasons for introducing the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution by the 52th Amendemnt to the Constitution in 1985, were achieved.”

In the 2017 polls to the 40-member Goa Assembly, the Congress emerged as the single largest party by winning 17 seats, while the BJP had bagged 13 seats. The BJP then quickly forged an alliance with some regional outfits and independents to form government in the state.

Over the last five years, a number of Congress MLAs quit the party, reducing its strength in the House to two. Polls to elect the new 40-member Goa Assembly were held on February 14 this year and the counting was votes will be done on March 10.

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