Goa Speaker resumes disqualification petition hearing against 10 ex Congress MLAs

Panaji, Feb 26 (IANS): Goa Speaker Rajesh Patnekar on Friday resumed hearings related to the disqualification petition against 10 Congress MLAs, who split the party and merged with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in July 2019.

The hearing comes in wake of a Supreme Court order earlier this month, directing the Speaker to dispose of the petition on February 26. In his response to SC directive, Patnekar had moved an application seeking clarification over the apex court's order, saying it would not be possible to complete the hearing proceedings in one day.

Speaking to reporters at the state legislative assembly complex, the petitioner and state Congress president Girish Chodankar said that the Speaker was duty-bound to follow the SC directive.

"As per SC order, it is clearly written that the Speaker will give a final verdict today, on the petition which I filed one and a half year back. We expect that the Speaker will respect the SC order and Constitution of India and uphold the constitutional authority of the chair he is sitting in. He just has to give an order, in our favour, reject our petition, but he has to dispose it," Chodankar said.

"As on date, the SC order stands, till the Court passes another order. The order stands as of today. Three months was the outer limit set (earlier) by the SC. It is more than one and a half years. Speaker had sufficient time to complete hearing and dispose it," Chodankar further said, adding that the merger of the Congress into the BJP was illegal as the Election Commission of India has said in response to a Right to Information query has said that no such merger proposal exists before the top poll body.

Ten Congress MLAs, led by then Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar split from the Goa Congress in July last year and subsequently merged the breakaway group into the BJP.

In all 13 Congress MLAs from Goa have quit the party and joined the BJP since 2017.



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