Merger of MGP’s splinter group into BJP: Speaker gets time till June 12 to file reply

Panaji: On the petition challenging the order of the Speaker dated March 27, 2019, approving the recent merger of the breakaway group of MGP into BJP, the counsel for Speaker Tuesday contended before the High Court of Bombay at Goa that the order cannot be challenged as it is an administrative decision.

The counsel also said that no application for disqualification was received and further sought time to file a detailed reply. The High Court

and adjourned the matter for June 12. The court enquired with the counsel as to whether the Speaker had the authority to pass an order to merge a political party. The counsel said that the order of the Speaker is an administrative order and not subject to judicial review.

Counsel for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) said that the party has not adopted any resolution for merger and there is no merger of MGP. The counsel said that, in fact, recently the MGP also contested a by-election.

Petitioner Sadanand Vaigankar, a social activist, has sought disqualification of Deputy Chief Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar and PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar on the ground that they have incurred disqualification under para 2 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

The counsel of the petitioner pointed out that any citizen of India can file a disqualification petition as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court. The counsel of the petitioner also pointed out that as per the RTI reply of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the MGP is still a recognised party and that there is no merger of the party into BJP. The counsel also pointed out that the action of the Speaker is unconstitutional.

The petition states that the petitioner is challenging the order dated  March 27, 2019, passed by the Speaker of the Goa state legislative assembly, whereby in purported exercise of powers under paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, the Speaker approved merger of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak legislative party into Bharatiya Janata Party. The impugned order is ex-facie without jurisdiction and authority of law; void ab initio; arbitrary; illegal; perverse and is clearly done to preempt any action of disqualification being raised against the respondents Ajgaonkar and Pauskar. The impugned order is bad in law and liable to be quashed and set aside, states the petition.

The petitioner has prayed in the petition that pending hearing and final disposal of the matter, the court be pleased to issue a writ in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ or a direction thereby restraining respondents Ajgaonkar and Pauskar from functioning as members of the legislative assembly and/or holding any constitutional post or office of profit.