SC: Sibal cites 18-month delay in disqualification plea of Goa MLAs
Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Monday told the Supreme Court that a plea by Goa Congress leader Girish Chodankar
New Delhi: Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Monday told the Supreme Court that a plea by Goa Congress leader Girish Chodankar seeking disqualification of 10 MLAs who switched to the BJP from the Congress in July 2019, has been pending for one-and-a-half years.
Sibal contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that the disqualification petition with the Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly was filed in August 2019 and no decision has been taken so far.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing some of the MLAs whose disqualification has been sought, said the reply on Chodankar's plea has already been filed and the matter can be fixed for hearing. The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, told Sibal, who was representing Chodankar, that it will take up the plea in the second week of February. The Congress leader urged the apex court to ask the Speaker to decide the matter.
Chodankar cited last year's August 11 order directing the listing of the plea after two weeks, yet the registry did not list the matter. The top court observed that no one could have a vested right in delay.
Sibal cited the Supreme Court verdict, which ruled that the Speaker must decide the disqualification matter at the earliest. "The Speaker must decide now", said Sibal citing the decision in Keisham Meghachandra Singh v. the Hon'ble Speaker Manipur Legislative Assembly & Others, which set a 3-month timeline for the Speaker to decide on disqualification. Rohatgi contended the matter would be taken up by the Speaker on merits. Sibal replied the Speaker must decide the matter immediately, not on merits.
Chodankar contended that a disqualification petition was moved against 10 MLAs who switched to BJP before the Speaker. However, the plea is yet to be heard.
In the disqualification plea, Chodankar had contended that these MLAs had ex-facie incurred disqualification under Article 191(2) of the Constitution, read with para 2 of the Tenth Schedule. He insisted that they are liable to be disqualified as members of the Assembly.