Goa Speaker to pass order on Congress’ disqualification plea on April 20 post SC prod

In a crucial development, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Supreme Court that Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar will pass the order on a plea seeking disqualification of 10 BJP MLAs on April 20. On Tuesday, an SC bench led by CJI SA Bobde was hearing a petition filed by Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar seeking direction to Patnekar to dispose of the disqualification plea expeditiously. Earlier, the apex court had issued a notice in this matter in June 2020. During the hearing, Mehta revealed that the proceedings had concluded and the Speaker has kept the matter on April 29 for the pronouncement of orders.

However, the bench retorted that there cannot be such a long delay as it cannot hear the case after April 24. Calling for the order to be pronounced earlier, the SC questioned the Solicitor General on whether he wanted a new bench to hear this matter all over again. Arguing for Chodankar, senior advocate Kapil Sibal claimed that the Speaker was making a mockery of the entire process. While Mehta stated thereafter that Patnekar will pass the order on April 22, Sibal stressed that it should be a week earlier.  When the apex court asked Mehta whether the order can be passed on April 20, the latter agreed after taking instructions from the Speaker. The matter will be listed for hearing on April 21. 

Disqualification petition in Goa

In a huge loss of face for Congress, 10 legislators belonging to the party including the then Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, Atanasio Monserrate, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred Dsa, Nilkant Halarnkar and Isidor Fernandes joined BJP on July 10, 2019. Thus, BJP has a comfortable majority in the Assembly at present with 27 MLAs as against the Sonia Gandhi-led party which is now left with only 5 legislators. On August 8, 2019, Chodankar filed the disqualification against these MLAs for violating the 10th schedule of the Constitution. While the Speaker held 5 hearings in this matter, the Goa Congress chief accused Patnekar of using delaying tactics to help the defectors continue as MLAs. Moreover, he alleged that the Speaker has committed contempt of court by not delivering his verdict on February 26 as per the directions of the Supreme Court. 

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