Panaji: The Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly Rajesh Patnekar has told the Supreme Court that it may not be possible to complete and conclude the proceedings in one day i.e. on February 26 in the disqualification case against 10 MLAs who joined BJP in 2019.
The application by Speaker also sought clarification of order dated February 2, 2021.
The appliation says that the Petitioner, Girish Chodankar, has filed the instant Writ Petition under Article 32 of The Constitution of India, seeking a direction from this Court to the Respondent No. 1 to decide the disqualification Petition filed by the Petitioner herein, against the Respondent no 2 to 11 within period of one month. It has been contended by the Petitioners that Respondent No.s 2 to 11 have ex-facie incurred disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India, from functioning and acting as Ministers and Members of the Legislative Assembly.
It is submitted that another Writ Petition bearing No 667/2020 filed by one Ramakrishna Madhav Dhavalikar is also pending before this court, and has been tagged with the present Petition. The relief sought in the said Petition is similar to that sought in the present Petition, however the Petitioner in WP No. 667/2020 has further sought direction restraining the Respondent No. 2 and 3 therein, from participating in the proceedings of the Legislative assembly until a decision on the disqualification Petition has been taken by the Speaker and further sought a direction to restrain Respondent No. 2 and 3, therein from functioning as cabinet ministers in the state of Goa until a decision is taken by the Respondent No. 1 on the disqualification application.
The Speaker says the matters came up for hearing before this court on 10th of February 2020. This court was pleased to pass the following order:
“Mr Tushar Mehta, the Ld. Solicitor General appearing for the respondent/s states that the disqualification petition/s has been listed by the respondent – speaker Goa state legislative assembly, for disposal on 26.2. 2021. Hereto annexed and marked as ANNEXURE R/1(Pg 9 to 10 ) is the copy of the order dated 10.02.2020 passed by this Hon’ble Court.
It is submitted that the Petitioner in the present Petition has filed the disqualification Petition before the speaker on 08.08.2019. Thereafter, the Speaker immediately had conducted the preliminary hearing on 15.10.2019. Vide Communication dated 24.01.2020, the speaker conveyed to all the parties that the disqualification petition shall be heard on 13.02.2020. On that date the respondent MLA’s sought time of 5 weeks to file their reply which was allowed by the Speaker. The matter was fixed for hearing on 16th March 2020. However, on account of the nation wide lockdown and some MLAs also testing positive for Covid-19, the matter came to be adjourned by the speaker. Hence now the Speaker has resumed the proceedings and has issued notice for the hearing to be conducted before him in 26.02.2021, which was conveyed to this Hon’ble Court, during the hearing on 10.02.2021
In so far as the other Writ Petition is concerned the petitioner therein had filed the disqualification Petition on 03.05.2019 and the present Respondent No 1 took charge as Speaker on 04.06.2019. However one Mr Sadanand Vaigankar filed a Writ petition bearing no 397 of 2019 before the Bombay High Court at Goa for a disqualification of the MLA’s who are Respondents in WP 667/2020. The said Petition came to be dismissed vide order dated 28.06.2019.
In the meantime another disqualification Petition was made by Dhavalikar before the Speaker. On 12.07.2019 the Respondent MLA’s in WP No. 667 of 2020 sought time to file their written statements. Thereafter on 20.09.2019 the said MLA’s sought extension of time to file their written statement accompanied by an application for condonation of delay. In the said proceedings also, the Speaker issued of hearing to be held on 14.02.2020.
In the interregnum this Respondent was hospitalized and admitted in the Goa Medical College from 25.08.2020 to 03.09.2020. Thereafter although this Respondent was discharged he was medically advised to take rest.
It is pertinent to note that on 14.02.2020, the Petitioner in WP 667/2020 took time to file an objection to the application for condonation of delay made by the Respondents therein.
It is submitted that thereafter on account of the pandemic on further hearings could take place in the said matter as well. It also important to note that 27.07.2020 a report of business advisory committee was received by the speaker, recommending that the assembly session should be restricted to one day, the Petitioner namely Mr. Dhavalikar was also a member of the committee preparing the said report.
Thereafter, 4 days assembly session was held from 25.01.2021 to 29.01.2021. Immediately thereafter this Respondent has issued notices for further hearing of the disqualification petition/s filed by the Petitioners in both the Petitions pending before this Hon’ble Court, by fixing date on 26.02.2021.
Thus, considering the sequence of events herein above, the proceedings are slated to be heard on 26.02.2021.
“The Ld. Speaker is to hear all the Respondents in both the Petitions along with the submissions of the Petitioners as well. In these circumstances it may not be possible to complete and conclude the proceedings in one day i.e. on 26.02.2021. That since the order dated 10.02.2021 has recorded that the proceedings would be disposed on 26.02.2021, it was deemed necessary and appropriate that above facts be brought to the notice of this Hon’ble Court. Hence the Respondent No. 1, making the present application, seeks suitable clarification. Hence the present application for the reliefs as prayed,” The Speaker said in the application.
The application added, “In the above facts and circumstances, it is respectfully prayed that this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to:
- i) Clarify the order dated 10.02.2021, to the extent that the disqualification proceedings before the Speaker are fixed for hearing on 26.02.2021.
- ii) Pass any other just and reasonable orders to meet the ends of justice.”