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Monday, November 28, 2022

SC Refers Maharashtra Political Crisis To a Constitution Bench

EC Directed not to take any decision till the Bench hears the matter

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana on Tuesday directed a five-member Constitution Bench to deal with a bunch of petitions related to the Maharashtra political crisis and also directed the Election Commission of India (EC) not to take any decision till the matter is heard by the bench on Thursday, August 25.

The bench comprising CJI N V Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari, and Justice Hima Kohli was hearing petitions related to the formation of the Eknath Shinde-led BJP government in Maharashtra, the disqualification of rebel MLAs, and the right over the Shiv Sena’s bow-and-arrow symbol.

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“List the matter before the Constitution Bench day after tomorrow and the Bench will decide about the symbol-related EC proceeding at the beginning,” the SC ordered. The Court also directed the EC to not take any decision till the Constitution Bench hears the matter day after tomorrow.

The CJI said that a Constitution Bench was required to look at the gap left by the decision in the case of “Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker” about the power of the Deputy Speaker to initiate disqualification proceedings.

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“It is important to highlight the power of the deputy speaker to initiate disqualification proceeding when such proceeding has been initiated against him. Here Nabam Rabia’s judgment needs gap filling. What is the impact of the removal of para 3 of the Tenth Schedule? What is the scope of interplay with the Tenth Schedule? What is the scope of powers of the Speaker? What is the scope of power of the EC when there is a rift in the party? All these questions to be decided by the larger bench,” CJI Ramana said.

Nabam Rebia, and Bamang Felix vs. T.N. Thongdok, Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly (2016). In this case, the SC had set aside and quashed the order of the then Arunachal Pradesh Governor dated December 09, 2015, preponing the 6th session of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly since it was violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution of India.

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Besides, the message of the Governor dated December 09, 2015, directing the manner of conducting proceedings during the 6th session of the Assembly, from December 16 to December 18, 2015, was also quashed since it was violative of Article 163 read with Article 175 of the Constitution.

In the wake of the political crisis in Maharashtra, rebel MLAs of the Shinde faction had received disqualification notices (June 25) from the then Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal for acting against the party whip while voting during the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) elections in the State. The rebel MLAs then approached the SC against the disqualification notices.

The SC (a vacation bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala) on June 27 granted interim relief to Shinde and his rebel group of MLAs by extending the time to file responses to the disqualification notices sent by the Deputy Speaker, till July 12.

Subsequently, the Court on June 29 also gave the go-ahead to a floor test called for by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. This led to the fall of the Thackeray government and Shinde took oath as Chief Minister with the backing of the BJP.

The Thackeray camp meanwhile filed various petitions before the top court. One of the petitions challenged the illegal summoning of the Assembly by Koshyari for conducting the floor test.

Another petition challenged the illegal order of the newly appointed Speaker Rahul Narvekar removing Ajay Chaudhary and Sunil Prabhu from the posts of leader as well as Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party respectively.

The Shinde faction meanwhile approached the EC to decide which is the real Shiv Sena – the Shinde camp or the Thackeray camp. This prompted the Thackeray camp to move the SC, contending that the EC should be restrained from deciding the Shinde camp’s plea until the petition on the disqualification of the rebel MLAs is decided by the apex court.

Also Read: National Conference’s Irresistible Impulse over Article 370 Abrogation Urges CJI to Hear Their Intransigent

Author

  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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