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Floor Test Issue
SC notice to Goa govt, Speaker
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 6
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Goa government and state Assembly Speaker on alleged debarring of three MLAs from voting during the confidence motion by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on July 30 amidst a plea made by the lawyers of the affected legislators for a direction to hold fresh floor test.

Seeking reply from the state government and Speaker Pratapsinh Rane by August 10, a Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan said the matter will be taken up for hearing on August 13 only after receiving their responses.

A set of petitions filed by two MGP MLAs, Deepak Dhavalikar and his brother Sudin Dhavalikar, a legislator of Goa Democratic Alliance, debarred from voting in the floor test, described Speaker’s action as arbitrary, in gross violation of the Constitution and laws laid down by the apex court.

Former Additional Solicitor General Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for MGP MLAs said “there is complete rough stroke given to the Constitution at every stage of these (floor test) proceedings in the Assembly by the Speaker.”

He said the Speaker had come up with a new idea of passing an “interim ex parte relief order” on a petition for disqualification of the two MGP MLAs by restraining them from voting in the floor test.

“We do not know from where the Speaker has got those powers of passing an ex parte interim order,” Rohtagi said.

Six MLAs, two each from the MGP and Save Goa Front and one of United Goa Front and an Independent had withdrawn support to the Kamat government on July 25 and Governor had ordered a fresh confidence vote by him.

The Kamat government had clearly been reduced to minority with these MLAs withdrawing support to it and Congress MLA Victoria Fernandez resigning.

Rohtagi said temporary disqualification of MLAs was unheard of even when there was application for their disqualification before the Speaker, specially when all legislators belonging to a party had withdrawn their support.

“If tomorrow Left parties withdraw their support to UPA government at the Centre will the Lok Sabha Speaker disqualify all MPs of these parties,” he asked, describing the Goa Speaker’s order as “perverse and without any legal sanctity”.

Despite Governor’s clear instruction to the Speaker that on July 30 he would only take the trust vote as the first item, Pratapsinh Rane took up an application moved at the last moment for disqualification of two MGP MLAs on the ground that the original party had not approved their switch over, he said.

In reply to a query by the court whether the MGP had issued whip to its two MLAs to vote in a particular manner, Rohtagi replied in negative and instead produced letters written to the Governor and Speaker by the six MLAs on July 25 withdrawing support to the Kamat government.

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