PANJIM: Goa Legislative Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar will on Friday hear the disqualification petition filed against 12 MLAs – ten from Congress and two from MGP – who had defected to the ruling BJP in 2019. The last hearing by the Speaker was on October 15, 2019.
The disqualification petition filed by Congress President Girish Chodankar against ten of its party MLAs, including then Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, has been pending before the Speaker since August 10, 2019. The legislators, now also a sitting Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chief Minister and two Ministers, had switched sides to the ruling side in July 2019.
Subsequently, MGP leader Ramakrishna Dhavalikar had also filed a disqualification petition as two MGP legislators – Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar – had joined the BJP in March 2019.
Delay in completing the hearing by the Speaker had led to Chodankar and Dhavalikar moving the Supreme Court for directions.
The petitioners had claimed that all 12 respondents have incurred disqualification under Article 191(2) of the Constitution read with para 2 of the Tenth Schedule and are liable to be disqualified as MLAs.
A preliminary hearing on the Congress petition was held on October 15, 2019 after which the respondent MLAs sought five weeks to file their replies. The matter was then fixed for hearing on March 16, 2020.
However, on account of the nationwide lockdown and some MLAs also testing positive for COVID-19, the matter was adjourned by the Speaker.
Further, the Speaker himself was hospitalised from August 25, 2020 to September 3, 2020.