The Supreme Court today sought the response of the Election Commission, Goa government and others on a plea filed by the Congress seeking disqualification of state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who quit as a Congress MLA and joined the BJP ahead of the 2017 trust vote. A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, issued notice to the poll panel, state government, Rane and others while asking the parties to file their response within six weeks on the appeal filed by the Congress and its Goa unit against a Bombay High Court order. The Goa bench of the high court had dismissed the Congress plea, holding that due to the voluntary resignation of Rane from the Assembly, the question of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India cannot be decided by it. Claiming that the high court had erred, the petition said Rane was elected as an MLA on a Congress ticket and resigned before the Manohar Parrikar government proved its majority on the floor of the Assembly on March 17 last year. "The Respondent No 5 (Sidharth Sripad) in collusion with Respondent No 6 (Rane) committed a fraud on the Constitution and as a result of which the Respondent No 6 was instrumental in engineering or ensuring the defeat of the petitioners in the floor test in March 2017.
Thus, Respondent No 6 is not eligible to continue as a member of the House as a result of the disqualification so incurred," it said. Rane, who had won the Valpoi Assembly seat on a Congress ticket in the state polls on February 4 last year, had resigned as a Congress MLA on March 16 to join the BJP. He was inducted into the state Cabinet led by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on April 12 and at present holds the health portfolio in the state government. The plea also said that the Speaker wrongly accepted Rane's resignation as an MLA before the floor test.
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