INDIA. Mumbai: The political crisis in Maharashtra initiated a tug of war among the Shiv Sena that lead to the party members divided in Uddhav Thackrey faction and Eknath Shinde faction.
A five-member Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud postponed the hearing of a number of petitions on constitutional concerns related to the split in the Shiv Sena party between the factions of Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde to February 14 on Tuesday.
The case (Writ Petition No. 493/2022), Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary, Governor of Maharashtra, and others, was scheduled to be heard by a bench that included Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and P.S. Narasimha.
The disqualification of 16 MLAs who defected from the original Shiv Sena to create the Government with the assistance of the BJP in June last year, led by Shinde (current chief minister), was brought up by senior attorney Kapil Sibal on behalf of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).
Sibal informed the bench that he had previously stated his intention to argue for the validity of the Nabam Rebia ruling and the necessity of having the matter forwarded to a seven judge bench.
At the previous hearing, Sibal had argued that a 7-judge bench should be convened to review the validity of the Constitution Bench’s 2016 ruling in the Nabam Rebia v. Deputy Speaker case (Arunachal Pradesh legislative Assembly).
A five-judge panel had determined in that case that the Speaker cannot start disqualification proceedings while a motion to remove him is still on the table. The 5-judge bench must decide whether to refer the case to the 7-judge court, according to Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.
It may be recalled that on June 25, when the then-Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Narhari Zirwal, disqualified 16 defections MLAs, his decision was contested on the grounds that he was unable to issue letters of disqualification because a notice demanding his removal was still pending.
The next hearing will take place on February 14 after Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud requested opinions from Senior Advocate Harish Salve and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Tuesday.
Maharashtra political crisis’ history of petitions
An appeal filed by Bharat Gogawale and 14 other defection-related MLAs, as well as a petition filed by Shinde, both seek to prevent Zirwal from acting on the disqualification case until the decision about his removal is made.
The dissident MLAs’ deadline to submit written responses to the disqualification notice delivered by Zirwal was extended by the division bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala till July 12, 2022. This decision was made on June 27, 2022.
Subhash Desai, the General Secretary of the Shiv Sena, filed the petition objecting to the Maharashtra Governor’s choice to nominate Shinde as Chief Minister and declaring as “illegal” the proceedings of the State’s Legislative Assembly held on July 3, 2022, and July 4, 2022.
On June 20, when the MLAs under Shinde rebelled and fled to Surat and subsequently Guwahati, a political crisis broke out in Maharashtra.
Thackeray was then requested to provide evidence of the MVA Government’s majority. On June 29, 2022, he announced his resignation after the Supreme Court declined to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s instructions to call the Assembly’s extraordinary session.
On June 30, 2022, Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis were elected as the respective CM and DCM. On July 3, 2022, Rahul Narvekar was chosen to serve as the new Speaker of the Assembly. On July 4,2022, Shinde demonstrated the majority of his government.
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