Says powers to decide such disputes vest with Speaker; Decision of Speaker can be challenged on grounds of judicial review
PANJIM: The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Wednesday dismissed the disqualification petition filed by Congress against Health Minister Vishwajit Rane citing that the powers to resolve such disputes vested with the Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly.
“The petition takes up two conflicting positions simultaneously. These cannot co-exist. There is a challenge, as we have seen, to the Speaker’s acceptance of Vishwajit’s resignation. But if that acceptance is bad, then the Speaker must have jurisdiction and the petition does not lie. The only remedy is to go to the Speaker, and, after his decision is rendered, to bring a challenge on the limited grounds of judicial review,” the order states.
The court further states that the petition says the Speaker does not have jurisdiction; and he does not have it because he accepted Vishwajit’s resignation, i.e, that the acceptance of the resignation is good.
“It follows, therefore, that Vishwajit vacated his seat once his resignation was accepted; and no question remained of deciding any disqualification. The petitioners cannot maintain that the Speaker’s acceptance of the resignation is simultaneously both good and bad. Again, the petition will not lie. In either scenario, the result is, inevitably, only one. The Petition must fail,” the court order reads.
The Court said that even if there had been a decision of the Speaker the power of judicial review in any case is limited.
“Kihoto Hollohan tells us in no uncertain terms, and to which there is no answer, that we cannot exercise an Article 226 jurisdiction before a decision. If that is so, then we do not see how we can exercise it without a decision either,” the court order said.
The arguments in the matter concluded last month, Senior Advocate Surendra Desai represented Congress in the High Court.
Rane had quit the membership of the Legislative Assembly and the Congress after being sworn in as MLA. He then joined the BJP and is a minister in the Manohar Parrikar government. Congress had moved the High Court with a disqualification petition against Rane, seeking that he be disqualified for being chosen as MLA for the next five years (2022) or till the House is dissolved.