Hearing the petition of rebel Shiv Sena leaders on Monday against the against the disqualification notice issued to them, the Supreme Court granted interim relief to Sena rebels, saying no decision will be taken on their disqualification till July 11.
The apex court further said it cannot pass order on floor test as that would create unnecessary complications. It further refused to pass any interim order on plea that there should not be any floor test in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly till July 11.
The apex court also issued notice to Deputy Speaker, Chief whip Sunil Prabhu, leader of Legislature party Anil Chaudhary, and Centre on Eknath Shinde's plea, according to an NDTV report.
The report added that the Supreme Court directed to file affidavits within three days and counter affidavits in five days and rejoinders will be filed three days thereafter. The matter will be heard next on July 11.
Sena rebels led by Eknath Shinde had filed pleas against disqualification notices issued by the deputy speaker to them. A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala was told by senior advocate NK Kaul, who appeared for the rebel MLAs, that the Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is in the "minority" of the legislative party and has been "subverting the state machinery".
Kaul said that atmosphere is not conducive for these MLAs in Bombay as they have been threatened. He cited the apex court verdict in the Nabam Rebia case of Arunachal Pradesh and said the deputy speaker is not competent to proceed with the disqualification of MLAs when a plea for his own removal is pending.
Kaul said 39 MLAs are together against the minority group.
With these 39 MLAs not with Uddhav, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government that he is running with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress would be in minority as it would be reduced from 152 to 113. The majority mark is 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly.
Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA and minister Eknath Shinde has moved the Supreme Court against the disqualification notice issued by the deputy speaker to him and 15 other rebel legislators, calling the action "illegal and unconstitutional" and seeking a stay on it.
Shinde and a sizable number of MLAs rebelled against the leadership of Uddhav on June 21 and are currently in Guwahati in Assam. Their main demand is that the Sena withdraws from the MVA alliance.
In the petition, Shinde contended the Speaker's post has been vacant since Nana Patole resigned in February 2021. "Thus, there is no authority who can adjudicate upon the disqualification petition under which the impugned notice has been issued to the petitioner," he said.
If the SC accepts Shinde's plea, then the rebel camp will approach governor BS Koshyari for a floor test saying the MVA government-led by Uddhav Thackeray has lost the majority, according to the reports.
Justifying the proposal to disqualify the errant MLAs, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, "They must be disqualified as they defied the whip." A senior NCP leader said since Shinde has moved SC.
"We feel that even if Devendra Fadnavis, being the leader of the largest party, is called for formatation of government, he may not do so immediately; he may stake claim after a brief gap," he said.
Following the SC's relief, Shinde called it the victory of Bal Thackeray's Hindutva and the ideals of his mentor Anand Dighe.
"This is the victory of the Hindu Hriday Samrat Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva and the thoughts of Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb," said Shinde in a tweet with the hashtag #RealShivSenaWins.
(With PTI inputs)
(With PTI inputs)