Supreme Court schedules Goa MLAs defection case for February second week

Girish Chodankar. File   | Photo Credit:

“Nobody can have a vested right to delay,” Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, heading a three-judge Bench hearing a plea filed by Goa Congress leader Girish Chodankar, said on Monday.

Mr. Chodankar had complained about the delay of over a year and half by the State Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions filed against 10 Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP in July 2019. The Supreme Court Bench scheduled the case for hearing in the second week of February.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for the Congress party and Mr. Chodankar, said a year and a half had passed without the Speaker taking a call. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for the legislators, said a reply had been filed to the plea and the case should be heard on its merits. However, Mr. Sibal said it should be left to the Speaker to decide the disqualification proceedings on merits expeditiously.

Mr. Chodankar had also asked the court to restrain the 10 legislators, who include three State Ministers, from participating in the House proceedings during the pendency of the defection charges levelled against them.

He had alleged that these MLAs, purportedly claiming to form two-thirds of the Indian National Congress (INC), “decided to merge the said legislature party with the BJP” and addressed a communication to that effect to the Speaker. Based on the communication, the Speaker was pleased to take note of the “alleged merger of INC’s legislative party in the Goa Legislative Assembly, and allotted the 10 MLAs seats in the Assembly along with the members of the BJP”.

Mr. Chodankar has contended that the legislators ex-facie incurred disqualification under Article 191(2) of the Constitution, read with Para 2 of the Tenth Schedule (defection), and were liable to be disqualified as members of the Legislative Assembly.

The petition refers to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court which urges Assembly Speakers to decide disqualification proceedings within a reasonable time, ideally within three months.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 10:38:36 PM |

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