Rajesh Patnekar.. Image Source: IANS News

Panaji, Feb 26 : Goa legislative assembly speaker Rajesh Patnekar on Friday heard two separate petitions seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs, formerly attached to the Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), even as the petitioners state Congress president Girish Chodankar and MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar have prayed for prompt disposal of their respective petitions.

The Speaker, who heard arguments from counsels of both petitioners through Friday, has kept both the disqualification petitions for final order, according to the petitioners.

"Today, the hearing has been completed and the matter has been posted for final order. If the SC had not intervened, this hearing would not have happened today and (hearings) would have continued till elections are declared," Chodankar told reporters after the hearing at the state legislative assembly complex.

"Getting the order, in our favour or not, does not matter. Disposal of the petition before the Speaker was very important for us. Speaker has heard us and our opponents, we will hope to have an order very soon," Chodankar also said.

The hearing conducted by the Speaker, comes in wake of a Supreme Court order earlier this month, directing the Speaker to dispose of the petition by February 26.

"The Supreme Court order compelled the Speaker to complete the hearing on the disqualification petition filed by me," Chodankar said.

Ten Congress MLAs, led by then Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar split from the Goa Congress in July last year and subsequently merged the breakaway group into the BJP. Chodankar's counsel has argued that the split and merger of the 10 now former Congress MLAs is illegal under Schedule 10 of the Indian Constitution.

In all 13 Congress MLAs from Goa have quit the party and joined the BJP since 2017.

The Speaker has also heard arguments in yet another disqualification petition filed by MGP's Dhavalikar challenging the split in the regional party led by two now former MGP MLAs, Deputy Chief Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar and PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar, both of whom quit the regional party and joined the BJP in March 2019.

"The Speaker has been kind enough to hear us on the merits of the matter. Now it is reserved for orders," advocate Dhaval Zaveri, counsel for Dhavalikar, told reporters.

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