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Goa Congress Moves SC Challenging HC Order on Sacking of 10 MLAs Who Joined BJP

This comes ahead of the counting of votes for the new 40-member Goa Assembly on Thursday, 10 March.

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The Goa Congress has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court's (Goa bench) order that had dismissed petitions seeking disqualification of 10 Congress MLAs who had joined the BJP, reported news agency ANI.

Girish Chodankar, the President of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, has approached the Apex court after the high court dismissed the disqualification pleas and upheld the decision of the Goa Speaker on 24 February.

The plea was filed ahead of the counting of votes for the new 40-member Goa Assembly, being held on Thursday, 10 March.

Chodankar's plea contended that the Speaker allowed protection to the Congress defectors, by invoking protection guaranteed to a legislature party member when the original party of a member merges with another party.

The plea sought the apex court's intervention, claiming the high court order could lead to political chaos and also pointed out that the Speaker held that the "deemed merger" of Congress with the BJP had taken place.
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The high court's order was in response to two separate pleas that sought for disqualification of 12 MLAs who switched sides from their original party to the ruling BJP.

While Congress' Chodankar had filed a disqualification petition against 10 MLAs of his party who moved to the BJP in July 2019, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party's Sudin Dhavalikar had filed a disqualification plea against two party MLAs who had defected to the BJP the same year.

In his plea to the top court, Goa Pradesh chief said that the SC was required to answer three important questions: Whether the merger of the original political party is a necessary pre-condition for the members of a legislature party to claim merger of their legislature party? Whether the protection granted under Para 4(1) of Schedule X can be granted to members of the legislature party in the absence of the merger of the original political party? Whether the legislature party can initiate and conclude the merger of the political party without any reference to and/or role of the political party?

The plea said that this deemed merger was "in teeth of the settled principles of merger of a political party under Schedule X" passed by the same high court.

It argued the order would further promote evils of defections, which would be at loggerheads with the very object sought to be achieved through Tenth Schedule (anti defection law) of the Constitution.

The petitioner claimed that the high court gave an erroneous interpretation on the premise that MLAs constituted two-third of their party and merged with another party, which ensured protection under para 4 of the Tenth Schedule.

In 2017 Goa polls, the Congress emerged as the single largest party by winning 17 seats. However, the BJP forged an alliance to form the government. Later, a number of Congress MLAs quit the party, which reduced its strength in the House.

(With inputs from IANS, ANI)

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