INDIA. Mumbai: The Supreme Court will hear the petition filed by former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday, challenging the decision of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to recognise the rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde (now Chief Minister) as the real Shiv Sena and allot the party name and “bow and arrow” symbol to it.
Stating that he enjoys majority status in the Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha, Thackeray said that in a situation where there is a conflict in the legislative majority, along with the possibility of some of the members losing their right to membership, the legislative majority alone is not a safe guide for the purpose of adjudicating a petition under Paragraph 15 of the Symbols Order.
First, 16 MLAs and then 23 MLAs defected (totaling 39 MLAs) and joined the rebel group. If two-thirds of the legislators defect, then as per the Constitution (Fifty-second Amendment) Bill, 1985 (anti-defection law), the defectors should join another party and cannot claim the title of the original party.
Thackeray, in his petition, also contended that the EC could not have relied on the legislative majority test as disqualification proceedings against Shinde’s supporters are still pending. If disqualified, the Shinde faction would not have a legislative majority, he said.
Thackeray on Monday also demanded that the poll panel be dissolved, claiming that there was not a single instance where the party name and symbol were directly given to one faction.
In another development, former Cabinet Minister and BJP member Dr. Subramanian Swamy tweeted that “I support Uddhav Thackeray’s demand to sack the CEC since his tenure earlier in the Finance Ministry was dubious.”
The first such instance
The Election Symbols Order, 1968, of the EC deals with the question of a split in a political party outside of the Legislature. The first case under the order was the dissolution of the Indian National Congress in 1969.
At the time, while the Congress group led by Indira Gandhi was recognised as the Congress party and given a new symbol, the Congress (O) retained the old symbol.
In another development, on Tuesday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat allotted the Shiv Sena office in Parliament House to the Eknath Shinde-led faction. The decision came a day after the Shinde faction took control of the Shiv Sena party office in the Maharashtra Legislative Building in South Mumbai on Monday.
However, the tussle to capture the party office in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is on between the Thackeray and Shinde factions.
As the BMC is under the control of the Administrator (Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal) since March 8, 2022, after the five-year term of the 227-member BMC House ended on March 7, 2022, all the party offices have been closed and remain heavily guarded.
Meanwhile, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court began hearing “on the merits” a batch of petitions related to the political fallout in Maharashtra due to the split in the Shiv Sena on Tuesday. The hearing is expected to continue for three days.
Also Read: Election Commission Recognises Eknath Shinde Faction as Shiv Sena