The Goa Assembly Speaker Tuesday dismissed the disqualification petitions filed against 12 MLAs – 10 from the Congress and two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) – who defected to the BJP in 2019.
The Speaker’s decision comes a year and a half after a preliminary hearing was held in the petition filed by Congress leader Girish Chodankar in October, 2019. Chodankar and MGP leader Ramkrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar had moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Speaker to decide the disqualification petition pending for several months.
“The biggest hurdle was to get a decision from the Speaker. It is the first hurdle we have cleared. This decision is not in consonance with the Constitution. We are going to test this order. We will wait to see what happens in the Supreme Court on April 22,” said lawyer Abhijit Gosawi, who argued on behalf of Chodankar, President of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee. He said that they will apply for a copy of the order which may be made available on Wednesday.
“This one-line order is on expected lines. We are not at all surprised. We could not have expected anything else from a biased Speaker. Our legal team will examine all options. We can either challenge this in the High Court or we can mention it in the Supreme Court,” said Chodankar.
The disqualification petition against the 10 Congress legislators, including revenue minister Jennifer Monserrate and Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate, was filed by Chodankar and later another petition was filed by Dhavalikar against two of the party’s MLAs who defected to the BJP, including current Deputy CM Manohar Ajgaonkar.
The hearing in February came after the preliminary hearing held in Chodankar’s petition in October 2019. Chodankar and Dhavalikar had moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions.