The Supreme Court on Tuesday posted for January 10 hearing a batch of petitions filed by the rival factions belonging to Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of Shiv Sena group in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha asked the counsels of both sides to complete all procedural formalities in the meantime.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the Thackeray group told the apex court that he would argue on the reference of the matter to the seven-judge bench.
“It has been agreed that Mr. Sibal shall circulate a brief note of his submission on proposed reference to a seven-judge bench. The note shall be submitted two weeks in advance to Governor of Maharashtra and private respondents,” the bench stated in its order. The top court also noted that other parties can also make a note of their submissions.
On July 13, 2016, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia case held that Speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.
Earlier, Uddhav Thackeray-led group had said to the apex court that an unconstitutional government was running in Maharashtra.
In August, the top court’s three-judge bench had referred the issues involved in the petition filed by rival groups of Shiv Sena in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis to a five-judge Constitution bench.
It had said that some of the issues involved in the Maharashtra political crisis might require a larger Constitutional bench for consideration.
The bench also asked the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Rahul Narwekar not to take any action on the new disqualification notices issued against the members of Shiv Sena.
Notably, there are various petitions pending before the apex court which have been filed by both factions of Shiv Sena.
The Thackeray-led faction had approached the top court challenging the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision to invite Eknath Shinde to form the government and also the election of the speaker and floor test.
Later they also challenged the Shinde group approaching the poll panel claiming they are ‘real’ Shiv Sena. They had also challenged the newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s action recognising the whip of the Eknath Shinde group as the whip of Shiv Sena.
The plea said: the newly appointed Speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise whips nominated by Shinde as Uddhav Thackeray is still the head of the Shiv Sena official party.
The plea was filed by Thackeray camp’s Sunil Prabhu seeking suspension from the Maharashtra Assembly of new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
Shinde group’ challenge to the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to 16 rebel MLAs as well as the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader, is also pending before the apex court.
On June 29, the top court gave a ‘go ahead’ to the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on June 30. Refusing to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority support on the floor of the House on June 30, the bench had issued notice on Prabhu’s plea against the floor test.
After the apex court’s order, Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation as the Chief Minister and Eknath Shinde was later sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.