Friday 22 March 2019

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Double victory for Willy

 

It is a double victory for Goa chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza, whose 20-day old coalition government was caught up in constitutional battles since the time he was sworn in on 29 July, after Pratapsing Rane's government was dismissed following revolt in the Congress.

The Bombay high court today dismissed Rane's petition challenging Goa governor's dismissal order while also staying the speaker's order to disqualify 10 members of de Souza's breakaway group, the Goa Rajiv Congress.

The confidence motion, scheduled for tomorrow, however may be taken up later since the high court has expressed its wish to postpone the deadline till the hearing on the speaker's disqualification petition is completed. The hearing on the petition would resume on 28 August.

De Souza has thus urged governor J F R Jacob to postpone the 21-day period, which he had set on 29 July, to prove his majority in the House. His decision was awaited till late night.

"I can win the confidence motion even tomorrow, if the governor rejects my plea to postpone the deadline, as per the wish expressed by the court", he told reporters.

His strength has now increased to 24 in the 40-memebr House, with another independent MLA joining his group. His breakaway group of the Congress was already supported by eight-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, four-member Bharatiya Janata Party and one independent.

"Although we cannot technically grant stay to the summoning of the session on 19 August, we wish and hope that the same would be postponed as fair play and justice requires maintenance of status quo in all respects", stated the high court while granting stay on disqualification today morning.

Though the high court has allowed the de Souza group to participate in the House proceedings, the division bench comprising Justice R K Batta and Justice J A Patil has stated that no party should be in a position to gain any undue advantage of it.

The court has however rejected de Souza's plea also to restrain the speaker from passing an ex-parte ad-interim order on another disqualification petition filed by another Congress MLA. But after receiving the court judgement, speaker Tomazinho Cardoz adjourned the hearing sine die.

Since the Congress petitioner had requested the speaker to grant relief and restrain the de Souza group from voting on confidence motion, the de Souza group was fearing that they may be once again restrained from voting by passing the interim order, as was done while voting against Rane's confidence motion on 28 July.

While dismissing former chief minister Pratapsing Rane's petition challenging the governor's dismissal order, the court said that the governor's order cannot be subject to judicial scrutiny since he has discretionary powers to act under article 161 of the Constitution of India.

The court declined to examine the malafide intention of the governor in dismissing the government, stating that the governor is appointed at the pleasure of the President of the India, who is the right authority to check the malafide intentions, if any.

Secondly, the court observed, the malafide intention of the governor could be proved even in the House since any government can fall in the House if it does not enjoy majority.

"Ultimately, heads count in the democracy", quipped de Souza, while reacting to the second judgement of the high court on the governor's dismissal order. He has a big task before him till the confidence motion is taken up since the Congress is still trying to win over their former colleagues and come back to power.     






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