The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the decision of the speaker of the Goa Assembly to dismiss two petitions seeking the disqualification of 12 MLAs who had defected the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019, reported PTI.

Of the 12 legislators, 10 had defected from the Congress. Girish Chodankar, the chief of Congress’ Goa unit, had moved court seeking the disqualification of the 10 MLAs, citing the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. Sudin Dhavalikar, an MLA of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, had also filed a similar petition seeking to disqualify the party’s MLAs who had defected to the BJP in the same year.

The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution deals with defections both at the central and state level. It says that a member of the House shall be disqualified from being its member if, after getting elected, they give up the membership of their party or join another political party.

They will also be disqualified if they vote or abstain from voting in contradiction to the direction issued by the party. The only exception to the law is if two-thirds of a legislative party decides to defect en masse.

On April 20, Goa Speaker Rajesh Patnekar had dismissed the petitions filed by Chodankar and Dhavalikar.

Appearing for Chodankar, advocate Vivek Tankha said in the High Court that the speaker had “erred” in his interpretation of the fourth paragraph of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

However, on Thursday, the a division bench of the High Court held that the Speaker’s decision to dismiss the disqualification pleas was correct.

The Speaker’s order “cannot be said to be militating against the object of introduction of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution on the touchstone of political and constitutional morality,” the bench was quoted as saying, according to PTI.

Chodankar said he will move the Supreme Court to challenge the order. He alleged that order will encourage the politics of the central government to use money. “They can change the mandate of the people,” he said.