The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and 38 MLAs, asking them to file their detailed respective replies within two weeks, after hearing the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction’s plea challenging the Assembly Speaker’s refusal to disqualify them.
A three-judge bench of the top court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, issued the notice and sought response within two weeks.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Thackeray faction, told the apex court that the Speaker’s order violated its judgment and hence it ought to hear the matter.
The Uddhav Thackeray faction on January 15 had moved the Supreme Court challenging Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s order, dismissing the disqualification petitions against CM Shinde and 38 MLAs and ruling that the Shinde faction is the real Shiv Sena.
The Supreme Court on January 17 agreed to hear on January 22 the appeal filed by the Uddhav Thackeray-led camp challenging the Speaker’s order refusing to disqualify CM Shinde and 38 MLAs.
The faction had also challenged the Speaker’s order ruling that the Shinde-led group is the real Shiv Sena.
The Uddhav Thackeray faction’s plea stated that the Assembly Speaker’s order, holding that the 2018 leadership structure cannot be relied upon as it purportedly does not confirm with the provisions of the Shiv Sena constitution, is erroneous.
“The orders of the State Assembly Speaker is, without the consideration of the main grounds of the disqualification pleas, which have been filed by them (UT group),” the plea stated.
“The Speaker’s order is ex-facie ultra vires the provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution in as much as it appreciates the legislative majority of the ‘Shinde faction’ for the purpose of determining who is the political party. The order is a complete colourable exercise of power and is based on extraneous and irrelevant considerations. The Speaker has relied upon ‘legislative majority’ to determine who is the real political party,” the petition said.
The Speaker must not base the decision as to which group constitutes the political party on a blind appreciation of which group possesses a majority in the Legislative Assembly, it said.
The Speaker’s order is also in flagrant violation of the judgement of the Supreme Court in Subhash Desai, which has categorically laid down the fundamental difference between ‘legislature party’ and ‘political party’, the plea said.
“The Speaker’s orders in prima facie determining ‘which faction is the political party’ under the Tenth Schedule has by a roving enquiry and perverse reasoning has held the leadership structure of the Shiv Sena cannot be relied upon for the purpose of determining Shiv Sena Political Party,” the plea said.
The Speaker’s order is completely perverse in its appreciation on merits as it has not even considered the admitted factual position regarding disqualification under relevant statute, it said. These are simply brushed away by stating that since ‘Shinde faction’ has been held to be the political party “none of the grounds could be a ground to seek disqualification”, it added.
The Speaker has perversely failed to consider the clear evidence demonstrating the service of whips on the MLAs through unimpeached emails, the plea said.
The Shinde group had approached the Bombay High Court challenging the refusal of the Speaker to disqualify the Uddhav Thackeray group and the High Court issued a notice on the Shinde group’s petition.