Supreme Court May Constitute A Larger Bench To Adjudicate 'Constitutional Issues' Of Maharashtra Political Crisis
The 'status quo' order passed by the Court on 11 July continues to operate for now.
The Supreme Court will hear petitions filed by the Shiv Sena and its rebel MLAs on 1 August. A larger bench may be constituted for the same because there are many constitutional questions relating to defection, merger and disqualification, the SC indicated.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana directed the parties to formulate the issues that require examination by a larger bench by 27 July.
The bench was hearing six petitions related to the recent political crisis in Maharashtra that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.
The first one was filed by the Shinde faction during the summer vacation, wherein some rebel Sena MLAs challenged the disqualification proceedings initiated by the deputy speaker of the Maharashtra assembly.
The five remaining pleas have been filed by the Thackeray faction in relation to disqualification proceedings, the election of Speaker, recognition of party whip and floor test of the Shinde government in the Maharashtra assembly.
At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, told the bench that the Speaker of the Assembly recognising a whip other than the official whip nominated by the party is malafide.
He submitted that the governor could not have sworn in an individual (Eknath Shinde) who had sought to separate himself from the party elected to power by the people and thus, was disqualified under the tenth schedule of the Constitution.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Chief Minister Shinde, stated that in a democracy, people may gang up and tell the prime minister that 'sorry, you cannot continue'. He asked the Court that if a large number of people in a political party feel that another man should lead them, what is wrong with it?
At this juncture, the CJI said, "Initially, I had some doubts. This is a politically sensitive case and I do not want to give an impression that we are tilted." However, no order has yet been passed for referring to a larger bench.
The Supreme Court highlighted that there are some issues with the case, like the consequences of removal of para three (of tenth schedule) and absence of split concept, about whether a minority party leader has the right to disqualify the party leader.
The 'status quo' order passed by the Court on 11 July continues to operate for now. The CJI-led bench had granted interim relief to the Thackeray faction MLAs by asking Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar not to proceed with a plea seeking their disqualification as sought by the Shinde group on the ground of defying the party whip during the trust vote and the election of the Speaker.
Similar relief was granted to the Shinde faction on 27 June by extending the time for replying to the disqualification notices sent to the 16 rebel Sena MLAs till 12 July, which is further extended by deferment of the hearing.
(With PTI inputs)
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