On August 8, the Supreme Court was set to decide if a plea filed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shide's faction staking claim to the "real" Shiv Sena will be heard by a Constitution bench. The court had earlier asked the Election Commission to hold off on taking any immediate decision with regard to the plea and had said it will announce its decision on Monday.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana had said last week on Thursday that it would take a call by Monday on referring the matters related to the recent Maharashtra political crisis to a constitution bench.
"We will decide whether to refer the matter to the 5-judges constitution bench," the bench, also comprising justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, said.
The apex court was hearing the petitions filed by the Shiv Sena and its rebel MLAs during the recent Maharashtra political crisis which raised constitutional issues including those related to splits, mergers of political parties, defections, and disqualifications.
The Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena had in July moved the Supreme Court against the proceedings of the Election Commission on the plea of the Shinde-led group for recognition as the real Shiv Sena after the poll panel asked the rival factions of the Shiv Sena led by Thackeray and Shinde to submit documents by August 8 in support of their claims on the election symbol — bow and arrow — of the political outfit.
Timeline of Maharashtra political crisis
BJP Wins MLC Elections, Shinde Revolts
June 20: BJP wins five out of 10 seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. The victory of BJP comes as a shock to the ruling Thcakeray-led Shiv Sena and eventually lead to factions inside the MVA government.
June 21: Shiv Sena leader and rebel MLA Eknath Shinde reported missing with 11 other MLAs who fly to Surat in the BJP-governed state of Gujarat.
June 22: Uddhav calls Sena meeting in which 10-12 more MLAs are found missing and unreachable. Meanwhile, Sena leader Nitin Deshmukh returnd from Surat and said he was forcibly admitted to the hospital and given injections. Shiv Sena, in order to not lose more MLAs, accomodated the rest of their MLAs in several different hotels in Mumbai. Shinde urged Uddhav to break the 'unnatural' alliance with the NCP and Congress and claimed to have the support of over 40 rebel MLAs to avoid falling under the anti-defection law.
Shinde declared Sena Leader
June 23: Shinde and 37 MLAs declared Shinde the leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party. On the same night, Uddhav vacated his official residence, hours after reaching out to Shiv Sena dissidents with an emotional appeal and offering to quit. Rebel leader Shinde remained defiant and insisted the party should walk out of the "unnatural" ruling alliance MVA. Uddhav moved out of 'Varsha', his official residence in south Mumbai, and shifted to Matoshree, the Thackeray family's private bungalow in suburban Bandra.
June 24: Shiv Sena filed a petition against rebel MLAs and demanded that Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal of the Maharashtra Assembly be disqualified along with 16 MLAs of the Shinde camp.
June 25: 16 Shiv Sena MLAs who allied with rebel leader Eknath Shinde were served a disqualification notice by the deputy speaker of the Maharashtra assembly.
SC Gets Involved
June 26: Shinde moved the Supreme Court of India to dispute the rejection of the no-confidence vote against the Deputy speaker. As the internal feud continued within Shiv Sena, Uddhav removed Shinde from the post of 'Shiv Sena leader' within 10 days of his rebellion.
June 30: Amid speculation of former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis becoming Maharashtra CM again with the help of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, Ekanth Shinde was announced as the next CM in a surprise move. Fadnavis was sworn in as Shinde's deputy hours later.
Shinde becomes CM
July 1: Eknath Shinde sworn in as CM in a huge blow to the Thackeray family's political legacy. Shinde becomes the 40th CM of the state of Maharashtra.
July 3: A two-day special session of Maharashtra assembly was called on July 3-4 for the purpose of the election of new assembly speaker and floor test of Shinde. First-time legislator Rahul Narvekar of BJP was elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly with 164 votes against his opponent Rajan of Shiv Sena who gets 107 votes.
July 4: Shinde won floor test in the Maharashtra legislative assembly with 164 votes polled in favour of him, while 99 members voted against him.
Legal battle continues
Since then, the two factions of Shiv Sena have been engaged in a war of words of as a legal battle loomed in the Supreme Court, which hearing of pleas on the disqualification of rebel MLAs and on the appointment of Shinde as chief minister.
A petition has sought direction to quash the decision dated June 30 of Maharashtra Governor to invite Shinde to take oath as the chief minister of Maharashtra and form the government. It also sought direction to quash proceedings of the Maharashtra legislative assembly held on July 3 and the consequent election of the speaker.
Uddhav's Shiv Sena faction has also filed a writ petition challenging the recognition of the whip nominated by the Shinde faction as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena by the newly elected Maharashtra Assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar, according to The Quint.
Amid all this, Uddhav on July 8 stated that the 'bow and arrow' symbol of Shiv Sena would remain as per the law. He has also dared party rebels and the BJP to contest mid-term elections.
Earlier in August, the SC had asked the Shinde faction to redraft its submissions on petitions filed by the rival Uddhav Thackeray group on constitutional issues arising due to the recent political crisis in Maharashtra.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal is appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray faction while while veteran advocate Harish Salve is appearing for the Shinde clan.