HC trashes disqualification plea against Goa Health Minister

Panaji, Oct 11 : The Panaji bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed a disqualification petition filed by the Congress seeking disqualification of state’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.

In their order, Jusice G.S. Patel and Justice N.D. Sardessai said the position of the petitioners was conflicting in nature vis-a-vis the role of the Speaker in the resignation of Rane as a legislator elected on a Congress party ticket in the February 2017 assembly polls.

“The petition takes two conflicting positions simultaneously. These can’t co-exist. There is a challenge, as we have seen, to the Speaker’s acceptance of Vishwajit’s resignation. But if that acceptance is bad, then the Speaker must have jurisdiction,” the judgement says.

“Yet the petition says the Speaker does not have jurisdiction; and he does not have it because he accepted Vishwajit’s resignation, i.e., the acceptance of the resignation is good,” the order reads, adding that the petitioners “can’t maintain that the Speaker’s acceptance of the resignation is simultaneously both good and bad”.

The petition filed in May sought the disqualification of Rane, under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution that deals with the powers conferred on the high courts in constitutional matters.

The petition claimed that the Health Minister and then pro-tem Speaker Sidharth Kunkolienkar had flouted legislative procedure on March 16, the day of the incumbent government’s floor test, by allowing Rane to resign from legislatorship in defiance of a whip which had been issued by the opposition benches.

Rane, one of the 17 elected Congress MLAs, had defied the party whip and resigned from the Congress as well as from his legislatorship on March 16 — the day when the Manohar Parrikar-led government was facing a floor test.

Rane later criticised the Congress leadership, before formally joining the Bharatiya Janata Party a few weeks later. He was later sworn in as Health Minister in April.


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