Goa: Congress, MGP petitions against 12 MLAs who defected to BJP in 2019 for final disposal before HC on Dec 10

Goa Forward Party files intervention application, says it will strengthen Congress’s case.

While petitions filed by the Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) seeking the disqualification of 12 MLAs – Ten from the Congress and two from the MGP – for defecting to the BJP in 2019 will be placed before the High Court of Bombay at Goa on December 10 for final disposal, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Monday urged the court to hear an intervention application “supporting” the Congress’s petition.

While no MLAs from the GFP defected to the BJP in 2019, the party has filed the application stating that it will be “directly affected” by the court’s decision in the matter.

The GFP’s application comes at a time when discussions between the Congress, the GFP and other regional players are underway for forging a possible alliance ahead of the upcoming legislative assembly polls slated for February 2022.

GFP President Vijai Sardesai said that the ‘wholesale defections’ engineered by the BJP had brought disrepute to Goa. “The tenth schedule of the Constitution was murdered in Goa. We have evidence to show that the Speaker’s office has also been party to this. Our intervention application will expose how the BJP and the Speaker’s office allowed illegal defections to run their government for the last two years,” Sardesai said.

The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Monday issued notices to respondents in the petition filed by the Goa unit of the Congress seeking the disqualification of its 10 MLAs who defected to the BJP in 2019. The court said that it will hear the petition of the Congress and a similar petition filed by the MGP against two of its defectors together and posted the matter for final disposal on December 10. Senior counsel Vivek Tankha representing Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Girish Chodankar said, “All the pleadings have to be filed by the parties by December 9. The court will then hear them and take a view on the matter.”

Tankha, also a Rajya Sabha MP, said that the court’s decision in this case will be an important one for Indian democracy. He sought an early hearing in the case and told the court that 10 Congress MLAs had defected without the “merger” of two parties and the question before the court was whether there can be a merger of the legislative party but not the political party. “Whether defections can take place, what is the interpretation of merger under the law that is the 10th Schedule (of the Constitution), whether the Speaker in his judgement is right or wrong are the questions that have to be considered by the court,” Tankha said.

The GFP’s application filed by its General Secretary (Organisation) Durgadas Kamat over a month ago, stated that if the April 20 order of the Speaker dismissing the disqualification petitions is upheld then it “will create widespread defection by legislators under the guise of merger and is bound to affect all the legislative and political parties in the state of Goa.”

“We could have filed a separate petition but we have filed an intervention application in their (Congress) matter which strengthens their case also,” said Kamat.

Tankha, however, said, “The Congress does not need support. The Congress’s case stands on its legs. We are not guided by their (GFP) action.”

Kamat’s lawyer told the court on Monday that they do not want to file any affidavits in the matter but only want to be heard on the point of law. Neither the Congress nor the MGP lawyers objected to GFP’s intervention.

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