Midnight merger of MGP MLAs to BJP unheard of: HC

Panaji: The Bombay High Court in Panaji, which on Tuesday heard a petition challenging the merger of a breakaway legislative unit of the MGP into the BJP around midnight on March 27, observed that the late night merger was something which was “never heard of”.
The High Court bench of Justices R.D. Dhanuka and Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday also sought a detailed response from the Speaker of the state legislative assembly vis-a-vis the merger. The Speaker’s counsel maintained that the decision of the Speaker, a constitutional authority, was beyond the scope of judicial review.
While hearing a petition filed by a local politician Sadanand Vaingankar, who had questioned the validity of the merger, Dhanuka said that he had read about the merger in the newspapers the next day and observed that such a thing was “never heard of”.
The Speaker’s counsel advocate Satya Pal Jain, however, said the Speaker was a constitutional authority and that the office of the Speaker “has its own procedure.”
“I have also told the court that the petitioner has no locus standi to challenge the order. Those involved in the case are the MGP and the BJP, so the cause of action has to be from either MGP or BJP,” Jain told reporters after the hearing.
Jain also said, that Speaker Michael Lobo’s decision to approve the merger was an “administrative one” and therefore “not open to judicial review”.
In midnight drama leading to March 27, two MLAs from the MGP, Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar, split from the party, formed a separate legislative unit and merged it into the BJP.
The merger, as approved by acting Speaker Michael Lobo, reduced the strength of the MGP in the Goa assembly to one MLA, Sudin Dhavalikar, who was dropped from the state cabinet by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hours after the development.