Congress petition dismissed by High Court in Goa MLAs case
Goa Congress chief, Chodankar said, “The verdict was on unexpected lines and we are going to challenge it in the SC because it puts the very existence of political parties under question”
The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Thursday dismissed petitions of the Indian National Congress and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs in the state legislative assembly for joining the BJP in 2019. Congress said it would move the Supreme Court in the matter.
The HC ruling came days after the state cast its vote to elect MLAs for the next assembly term. The HC division bench comprising Justices Manish Pitale and R N Laddha in their order noted that the "petitioners have not been able to make out a case for interference in the impugned orders passed by the Speaker."
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. MGP chief and Madkai MLA Sudin Dhavalikar too had filed a similar petition before the bench against two of his party MLAs who had joined the BJP in the same year by splitting the regional party. The Congress and MGP through Chodankar and Dhavalikar respectively had approached the HC after Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly Rajesh Patnekar dismissed the disqualification petitions filed by them on April 20, 2021.
Reacting to the verdict, Chodankar said, “The verdict was on unexpected lines and we are going to challenge it in the SC because it puts the very existence of political parties under question.” The Goa Congress chief added that the order only encourages the kind of politics that is taking place all over the country today.
“It will encourage the kind of politics of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. With the use of the money, they can change the mandate of the voter. This order actually goes against the existence of political parties and the existence of democratic values. We are just setting a bad precedent in the country where after the election, a few MLAs can come together and make a decision irrespective of what the political party which has nominated them as a candidate stands for. They may take money from the party in power and can break away. So, we feel that this is going to set a bad precedent not only for the Congress party but all the political parties across the country,” Chodankar said, adding that it defeats the purpose of the tenth schedule of the constitution.
Goa Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant welcomed the HC ruling. “In dismissing the appeal filed by Congress and MGP against the merger of 12 MLAs into the BJP Legislature Party, the HC has ensured that democracy and constitutional mandate has prevailed over a smear campaign.” State BJP President Sadanand Sheth Tanavade said that democracy prevailed as the ruling had ended the opposition party’s falsehoods.
Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar, who as the then Leader of Opposition of the Congress party, led 10 MLAs to the BJP said that the HC had given him justice. “We had joined the BJP in the interest of Goans and now on March 10, the people will give us justice by bringing the BJP back to power,” he said.