Eknath Shinde’s counsel on Wednesday submitted before the Supreme Court, “Are we in such a hopeless situation that a man who cannot even find 20 MLAs to support him has to be brought back to power by the courts?”
After hearing detailed arguments, the Supreme Court said many constitutional questions arise in a clutch of petitions raising issues in connection with Maharashtra political scenario and added that the matter may be referred to a larger bench for consideration.
A three-judge headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising justices Krishan Murari and Hima Kohli asked the legislative secretary of Maharashtra to keep the records safe and the parties, involved in the Maharashtra matter, to frame issues which they likely to raise before the court and sought their replies.
The bench observed that some issues involved in the Maharashtra political crisis may need to be referred to a larger constitutional bench for consideration.
The top court fixed the matter for further hearing on August 1. The top court also asked the Maharashtra Speaker not to deal with disqualification petitions till further orders.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Thackeray camp, submitted that democracy is in danger, if the government in any state can be toppled despite the bar under the Tenth Schedule and added the only protection is for merger under para 4 of Tenth Schedule. He said 40 members of Shiv Sena, by their conduct, are deemed to have incurred disqualification by giving up party membership as per para 2 of Tenth Schedule. Uddhav camp urged the court to summon the Legislative Assembly records.
The Chief Justice said: “I strongly feel some of these issues may require a larger bench”.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Eknath Shinde group, said inner party democracy has been throttled by disqualification proceedings and if a large number of people in a party feels that another man should lead, what is wrong in that. Salve said: “Are we in such a hopeless situation that a man who cannot even find 20 MLAs to support him has to be brought back to power by the courts?”
During the hearing, the bench noted whether a minority within a legislature party can disqualify the majority is one of the issues, which will require a decision. The top court has sought a response from Shinde by July 29.
On July 11, the top court had granted interim relief to the Uddhav Thackeray camp MLAs by asking Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar not to proceed with the plea seeking their disqualification — sought by the Shinde group for defying party whip during the trust vote and the election of the Speaker.
Initially, the Shinde faction had moved the top court challenging the disqualification proceedings initiated by the then deputy speaker of the Assembly.
On June 27, a vacation bench of the top court extended the time for the rebel MLAs to file written responses to the deputy speaker’s disqualification notice till July 12. Both sides have accused each other of defying the party whip during the Speaker’s election and the trust vote on July 3 and 4, in connection with disqualification of legislators from both sides.
Maharashtra ATS to enforce further crackdown on PFI after Centre’s ban￼
The agency has so far conducted raids in 12 districts in Maharashtra, arresting and detaining scores of people linked to the Islamist organisation
Following the central government’s imposition of a five-year ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is planning to enforce a further crackdown on the organisation in the state, a senior officer said on Wednesday.“Relevant action has been initiated against the PFI in Maharashtra in accordance with the Centre’s ban this morning. We are getting details of their offices, members and bank accounts,” the officer said.
The agency has so far conducted raids in 12 districts in Maharashtra, arresting and detaining scores of people linked to the Islamist organisation. Sources said that more arrests are likely to happen in the days to come based on interrogations of the accused arrested so far.
The Union home ministry’s move banning the PFI and its affiliates under Section 3 of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act will be referred to a tribunal for adjudication, whether or not there is sufficient cause to declare the organisation “unlawful association”, people familiar with the procedure said.
Uddhav vs Shinde: SC allows EC to decide which faction is real Shiv Sena
In a big setback to Uddhav Thackeray’s faction, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stop the Election Commission from deciding the claim of Eknath Shinde group to be the real Shiv Sena.
After a day-long hearing, a constitution bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dismissed the interlocutory application filed on behalf of Thackeray’s faction. The apex court’s decision is very significant in view of the impending Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, where both Shinde and Thackeray factions would like to contest the poll.
The bench — also comprising Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and P.S. Narasimha — said there would not be any stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission on intra party dispute and ‘bow and arrow’ symbol of the party. “We direct that there would be no stay of the proceedings before the Election Commission of India,” it said.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A.M. Singhvi and Devadatt Kamat represented the Thackeray’s faction. Sibal submitted that Shinde cannot approach the EC once he has incurred disqualification, saying “I challenged the very locus of the person who moved the EC”.
Sibal clarified that Shinde has incurred disqualification as his various acts amounted to “voluntarily giving up membership of the party” under the Tenth Schedule, and he also violated the party whip, which is also covered by the Tenth Schedule.
The Thackeray camp vociferously argued that since disqualification of Shinde and the MLAs supporting him was pending, therefore EC cannot consider their application over the party and the symbol. However, the top court declined to entertain this contention.
Senior advocates Maninder Singh, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Mahesh Jethmalani, assisted by advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh, argued for the Shinde faction.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar represented the Election Commission.
Shinde’s faction counsel argued that under Article 324 of the Constitution, the EC possesses plenty of powers to deal with any situation which arises in relation to political parties and several party members have sent their representations to the EC supporting the Shinde group.
Kaul submitted that the nature of enquiry under Tenth Schedule and the Symbols Order are different.
Shinde’s faction counsel claimed a hopeless minority sought to remove him from the party, and contended that the Speaker, under the Tenth Schedule, has to exercise power to determine disqualification of a member and he cannot decide on the split or merger within a political party. Shinde faction counsel vehemently argued that a party member’s right to move the EC cannot be taken away.
The EC counsel argued that it worked independently, and its functions are different when compared with the Speaker. The counsel added that it can decide who held the majority in the party.
Shinde and his faction had rebelled against Thackeray, which forced him to resign as Maharashtra Chief Minister.
Shiv Sena’s General Secretary Subhash Desai had moved the apex court saying that Shinde and other MLAs, have purportedly initiated proceedings under para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 (Symbols Order) seeking to be recognised as the “real Shiv Sena” by the EC. Desai added that they are also claiming the right to use the election symbol of “bow and arrow” allotted to Shiv Sena.
Thackeray faction claimed that since the disqualification matter is pending in the apex court, Shinde faction are trying to illegally cobble up numbers and fabricate an artificial majority in the organisation.
The apex court, on July 11, asked the newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker not to go ahead with proceedings on the disqualification petitions.
Both Shiv Sena groups welcome SC decision
Both Shiv Sena factions – led by ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde – welcomed the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday allowing the Election Commission to decide on the ‘real Shiv Sena’ and the allotment of the iconic bow-and-arrow symbol.
In his first reaction, Shinde said he humbly welcomed the apex court decision and reiterated that his faction is the “real Shiv Sena”.
“In a democracy, the majority counts and we have that majority in the assembly, a majority of the MPs are supporting us. All decisions taken in the country are based on the Constitution, laws and procedures. We have not done anything to flout any laws and we have formed this government also on the basis of the laws. We were expecting this decision,” he said.
Shiv Sena ex-Minister Aditya Thackeray said that “this is not a relief” as claimed by the Shinde group leaders, while MP Arvind Sawant said that this decision is part of the legal procedures, and the whole country has witnessed the court proceedings.
“This is neither a shock nor relief to any side. The SC has now asked the ECI to take a decision in the matter. The ‘traitors’ have not got any victory as they are claiming. Now we shall present our case before the ECI. We have full faith in the judiciary,” said Thackeray Jr.
Terming it as “the first blow to Uddhav Thackeray” with more to come, Shinde said that they had full faith in the EC, even as several other leaders his Group hailed verdict rejecting the Sena’s plea for a stay on the ECI on the rival group’s claims before it.
Nationalist Congress Party state President Jayant Patil, Sena leaders like Anil Desai, ex-Minister Anil Parab and others also said that they accept the SC verdict and will now present their case strongly before the EC.
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