INDIA. Mumbai: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday reserved its order on whether the cases filed by rival factions of the Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde (now chief minister), in relation to the 2022 Maharashtra political crisis should be referred to a larger bench or not.
The matter was heard by the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha.
The three-day-long arguments, which concluded on Thursday, mainly centred around whether the SC judgement related to Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker (Arunachal Pradesh) should be revisited.
“Arguments addressed only on the question of Nabam Rebia being referred to a larger bench. Orders reserved,” the Court recorded after Thursday’s hearing.
In Nabam Rebia (Speaker) and Bamang Felix vs. Deputy Speaker (2017) 13 SCC 332, a five-member SC bench ruled that the Assembly Speaker cannot disqualify members when a motion is pending against him.
This judgement also reinstalled the prior Arunachal Pradesh government led by the then Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.
While the Shinde faction challenged the disqualification of 16 MLAs by the then Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, claiming that a no confidence motion was pending against him when disqualification notices were served upon them.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Thackeay and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), categorically pointed out that Zirwal had given sufficient notice to the disqualified MLAs. Besides, the “No Confidence Notice” against Zirwal was sent by email after the MLAs were disqualified, and email was not a mode to serve the “No Confidence Notice.”
Sibal urged the Court to interpret the 10th Schedule of the Constitution in such a way that it cannot be misused to topple governments. He also made a reference to political defections that took place last year in Goa.
“Five people in Goa… Two or three were taken over by another party, and the government falls. The argument is under the principle of merger; they merged with another party… Who is that? The Congress party remains; only the legislators merged. We are allowing manipulations within legislative parties to topple governments. “This cannot be allowed,” he argued.
Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the Shinde faction, argued, “There is a feeling among your lordship that Nabam Rebia was wrong on the period of time from when the speaker should stay his hands.”
“On June 28, the Maharashtra Governor ordered the floor test. Where is the prejudice for the speaker to exercise his power of disqualification? The top court had held that the governor’s floor test will not prejudice the Speaker’s power to decide on disqualification. On June 29, he (Thackeray) consciously resigned, knowing that he did not have a majority. “This was even before the floor test,” Jethmalani submitted.
June 20: Shinde rebels along with 34 Shiv Sena MLAs He is removed as the leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party (SLP) and is replaced by Ajay Chowdhary by Thackeray.
June 21: Zirwal recognises Choudhary as the SLP leader.
June 27: The SC orders a status quo and asks the Shinde faction to respond to the disqualification notices until July 11.
June 28: Koshyari convenes a special session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on June 30, 2022.
June 29: Thackeray seeks to stay. The SC refuses to stall the special session to prove the majority of the MVA (Trust Vote). Thackeray resigns.
June 30: No special session for a trust vote is held in view of Thackeray’s resignation. Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis are sworn in as CM and DCM, respectively.
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