In his affidavit in reply to the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging that Lifetime cabinet status conferred on him, former Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane has stated that he had not asked for any such honour or privilege and that the same was bestowed upon him by the State of Goa in its own discretion and wisdom.
Stating that it was for the High Court to decide the legality of that Lifetime cabinet status, Pratapsingh Rane in his very brief reply has stated that with all humility at his command he would accept whatever decision the Court makes in the matter.
Denying that the January 7th notification bestowing Lifetime cabinet status was issued on the basis of some alleged quid pro-quo, Pratapsingh Rane has stated that he was 83 years old and that if he had contested this year’s elections he would have been 88 when his term as an MLA would come to an end.
Stating that in view of his advanced age he took a decision to retire from active politics and that he would however continue to do social work in whatever capacity he can to serve the people of Goa, Pratapsingh Rane in his affidavit has also stated that he had been contemplating taking the decision to retire from active politics since as far back as December 2021.
Pratapsingh Rane in his affidavit submitted to the High Court has further stated that the suggestion that his decision not to stand for elections held this year was induced by the Lifetime cabinet status notification issued on 7th January was completely false and was a disservice to him and to the many years of public service that he has put into the State of Goa.
Stating that his meeting in September 2021 with Devendra Fadnavis was nothing more than a courtesy call, Pratapsingh Rane has submitted that the allegation made by Adv. Aires Rodrigues in the petition was a red-herring raised in an attempt to create unnecessary doubts and suspicion in the minds of the Court.
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Justice M.S.Sonak and Justice R.N. Laddha will on Wednesday 4th May continue hearing the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues challenging the constitutional validity of the notification issued on 7th January this year bestowing Pratapsingh Rane with Lifetime Cabinet status.
At the last hearing on April 25th the Court admitted the petition filed by Adv. Rodrigues and gave the State and Pratapsingh Rane time to file their replies while fixing the matter for arguments on interim relief.
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 an unprecedented lifetime Cabinet status.
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 Constituency 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.
Besides an official car, residence and free travel at the cost of the state, the 83 year old Pratapsingh Rane will now for life be entitled to 18 staff at his service. Two Officers on Special duty , one Advisor, one Under Secretary, two Private Secretaries, a Personal Assistant, three Junior Assistants , two Computer-cum- telephone operators, two drivers and four Multi Tasking staff. In addition he would be also entitled to two personal security officers and five policemen at his residence.