INDIA. Mumbai: Despite being scheduled for a hearing on Monday before the division bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala in the Supreme Court (SC), the petitions pertaining to the political turmoil in Maharashtra were not listed until Sunday night.
With SC slated to resume regular functioning after summer vacation on Monday, Chief Justice N V Ramana constituted a three-judge bench on Sunday. However, the approval for the Maharashtra matter from the Chief Justice was pending. If the issues aren’t listed, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal will request the urgent hearing on behalf of the Shiv Sena on Monday.
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut said that since the matter remains unlisted, the party will request the bench headed by Chief Justice to take it up for hearing as early as possible or allot it to any other bench.
The issues included the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the governor’s decision to invite rebel MLAs to form the government, the petitions on trust vote issues, the appointment of the chief whip in the Assembly by the newly-elected speaker, and disqualification pleas pending against 16 rebel Sena MLAs are to be heard by SC.
Pending hearing of the petitions, uncertainty hangs on the cabinet expansion of the Eknath Shinde-led Government, which was planning to expand on July 13 (Guru Purnima day). It may occur after the Presidential election slated to be held on July 18.
A war of petitions/Notices
June 20: Eknath Shinde rebels along with 34 Sena MLAs. He is removed as the leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party (SLP) and replaced by Ajay Chowdhary by Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
June 21: Former Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Narhari Zirwal recognizes the appointment of Choudhary as Leader of the SLP.
June 22: Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu issues a Whip asking Shinde and others to attend a meeting at 5 pm in Mumbai. Shinde responds, stating that Prabhu did not have the authority to call an SLP meeting. June 25: Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs receive disqualification notices under Rule 6 of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986 (“Disqualification Rules”) read with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution from the Deputy Speaker. The notice seeks replies by 5:30 pm on June 27.
June 26: Shinde and the 15 MLAs challenge the notice in two different writ petitions before the SC– challenging their disqualification and the appointment of Choudhary as the SLP leader.
June 27: The SC orders a status quo in the matter till July 11 and asks the Shinde faction to respond to the disqualification notices sent to them till July 11. The Thackeray faction advised to approach the apex court if any attempt to conduct a floor test to change the status of the Assembly was made before them.
June 27: The SC issues notice to the Deputy Speaker seeking his reply on the plea filed by the Shinde camp against his disqualification notices.
June 29: The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is toppled after Thackeray steps down as chief minister, ahead of a floor test. Shinde is sworn in as the CM the next day.
July 1: The MVA alliance moves the SC seeking the suspension of 16 rebel MLAs till the deputy speaker decides on the disqualification petitions filed against them. Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu seeks suspension of newly inducted Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 more rebel MLAs until their disqualification is made. The plea also seeks an order restraining them “from entering the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly or participating in any proceeding related to the House till the final adjudication of the disqualification proceedings against them.”
July 4: A petition by the Shiv Sena objecting to recognition granted by Speaker Rahul Narvekar to the whip Bharat Ghogawale appointed by the Shinde camp. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi mentions the matter before a bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheswari, saying that the speaker has no jurisdiction to recognize Shinde’s whip nominee, as Thackeray is still the head of the official Shiv Sena party.
July 8: A petition by Thackeray, challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to invite Shinde to form the government on June 30. It argues that the new coalition of the 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs is “ex-facie unconstitutional since the rebel MLAs have not merged with the BJP, and thus are liable to be disqualified under the Tenth schedule.
The petition also raises questions about the validity of the Assembly proceedings conducted on July 03 (election of BJP MLA Rahul Narvekar as the new speaker) and July 04 (the floor test in which rebel Sena MLAs-BJP coalition proved its majority. The Thackeray camp argues that the floor test was illegal since 16 rebel MLAs who voted were facing disqualification.
It is to be seen whether Thackeray can still win back the government through the Supreme Court proceedings. However, the hearings should be held without a break.
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