Supreme Court Asks Maharashtra Speaker To Expedite Disqualification Proceedings Against CM Eknath Shinde, Other MLAs
Apex court's 11 May verdict had directed the speaker to resolve the disqualification petitions in a reasonable timeframe.
The bench pointed out that there has been no progress in addressing the pending disqualification petitions since then.
The Supreme Court issued directives to the Maharashtra assembly speaker on Monday (18 September), urging him to provide a timeline for the hearing of disqualification petitions against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena MLAs aligned with him within one week.
Additionally, the speaker was instructed to establish a schedule for expediting the proceedings related to these legislators.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, referenced the apex court's 11 May verdict concerning the Maharashtra political crisis, which had directed the speaker to resolve the disqualification petitions in a reasonable timeframe.
The bench emphasized the need for the speaker to respect the Supreme Court's authority and adhere to its rulings.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the speaker, was tasked with informing the court about the specific timeframe set by the speaker for processing the disqualification petitions.
The bench emphasized, "We expect deference and dignity in complying with the directions issued by the Supreme Court," and scheduled the plea filed by the Shiv Sena (UBT) faction seeking the disqualification of Shinde and other Shiv Sena MLAs supporting him for a hearing in two weeks.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court clarified that the assembly speaker is considered a "tribunal under the tenth schedule of the Constitution" and, as such, is subject to its authority.
The bench also pointed out that there has been no progress in addressing the pending disqualification petitions since the 11 May judgment.
"We hereby instruct the speaker to issue procedural guidelines within one week, outlining a timeline for concluding these proceedings. The solicitor general is to apprise the court of the timeline established for the resolution of these matters," the bench declared.
The Shiv Sena (UBT) faction, led by Uddhav Thackeray, had lodged disqualification petitions against CM Eknath Shinde and other MLAs, including some cabinet ministers. These petitions followed a rebellion within the party and the formation of a government with BJP's support.
On 11 May, the Supreme Court had directed Speaker Rahul Narwekar to make a ruling on these petitions "within a reasonable time."
Eknath Shinde had spearheaded the rebellion against Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, who was the chief minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, a coalition that also included the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
This rebellion led to the downfall of the MVA government in the state, and Eknath Shinde subsequently formed a government with the BJP's assistance.
Earlier today, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut accused the Maharashtra speaker of deliberately delaying a decision on the disqualification petitions filed against MLAs aligned with CM Eknath Shinde's faction, led by the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction.
Raut alleged, "Despite a clear directive from the Supreme Court, the speaker is wasting time when it comes to deciding on the disqualification petitions. He is supporting the unconstitutional government in the state."
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