A Division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice M.S Sonak and Justice R.N. Laddha today admitted the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging the constitutional validity of the notification issued on 7th January this year bestowing Lifetime Cabinet status on former Goa Chief Minister Pratapsingh Raoji Rane. The Court will on May 2nd hear the plea for interim relief made by Adv. Rodrigues seeking stay of that notification.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his petition has drawn the High Court’s attention to the manner in which the Goa cabinet hurriedly resolved on 6th January this year to confer Pratapsingh Rane with lifetime Cabinet status.
Adv. Rodrigues in his petition has pointed out that that the Constitution of India does not provide for conferring Cabinet status on any individual other than a current minister who is duly sworn in and that there is no law whereby Cabinet status can be granted to an individual, who was in the past a Minister.
Pointing out that under Article 164 of the Constitution the total strength of the Goa cabinet cannot exceed 12, Adv. Rodrigues in his petition has submitted that conferment of Cabinet status on Pratapsingh Rane results in the number of Cabinet ranks being 13 which exceeds the mandate of law.
Stating that the very purpose of the 91st Amendment to the Constitution which restricts the size of Cabinet was to prevent the installation of jumbo cabinets and resultant huge drain on the public exchequer, Adv. Rodrigues has stated that conferring the Cabinet status to Pratapsingh Rane defeats the very purpose of the law and was a back door entry in wilful disobedience of the mandate of law.
Drawing the Court’s attention that there was no legal power vested in the Government for conferment of such status of Cabinet Minister and that it cannot be made in the garb of exercise of executive powers, Adv. Rodrigues in his petition has stated that the notification according Cabinet Status to Pratapsingh Rane was illegal, without jurisdiction, and void.
Expressing concern that Political patronage seems to be the order of the day, Adv. Rodrigues has further stated that the conferment of Cabinet status on Pratapsingh Rane was malafide, a colourable exercise of power in tearing hurry for political patronage and thus bad in law.
Adv. Rodrigues in his petition has also given the High Court complete details of BJP’s Goa in charge Devendra Fadnavis’s visit to meet Pratapsingh Rane at his residence on 21st September last year and to the 22nd December 2021 selection of Pratapsingh Rane as the Congress candidate from Poriem which he on 27th January this year declined to contest just days before the deadline to file the nominations for the Assembly elections which were held on 14th February this year.