Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday resigned as Maharashtra Chief Minister.
Thackeray in a televised address made the announcement of his resignations after losing his case inside Supreme Court. The Apex Court in its order had directed the former to prove its majority tomorrow.
Earlier, SC agreed to hear at 5 pm the plea of Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu challenging the Maharashtra Governor's direction to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take floor test in the Assembly on Thursday.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala took note of submissions of senior advocate A M Singhvi that an urgent hearing was needed in view of the decision taken by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asking the MVA government to prove a majority at 11 am on Thursday.
"We will keep at 5 pm. Please make sure that paper books are supplied by 3 pm to parties concerned," the bench said. Singhvi said the floor test cannot include names which are "stigmatised".
Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray to prove the majority tomorrow in a floor test. Singh wrote a letter to Assembly Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat calling for a special session at 11 am. Following the governor's call, senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said MVA will move the Supreme Court against Singh's letter mandating the Uddhav Thackeray-led dispensation to face a floor test on June 30.
In his letter, Singh said, "A special session of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha (legislative Assembly) shall be summoned on June 30 (Thursday) at 11 am with the only agenda of a trust vote against the chief minister, and the proceedings shall be concluded in any case by 5 pm."
"The proceedings of the House shall be telecast live and appropriate arrangements for the same shall be made," the letter said.
What has the court said?
As the bench commenced proceedings for the day, Singhvi, appearing for Prabhu, sought an urgent hearing of his petition for a stay on the "illegal floor test" ordered for tomorrow by the Governor.
Singhvi said the votes of MLAs facing disqualification would be illegally counted if a floor test is held and it cannot include names which are "stigmatised".
"Floor test cannot include names which are stigmatised. I want a hearing late in the evening. Votes which cannot be counted will be counted. The entire exercise will be futile," he said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said he had no objection to the matter being heard at 5 pm and will represent the Governor in the hearing.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for rebel MLAs led by Eknathrao Shinde, objected to the urgent hearing of the matter and requested that the case be taken on Thursday.
The bench then remarked, "Whether we decide in favour or not, they cannot be denied a hearing. An urgent hearing ought to be granted."
Chavan said the apex court has maintained status quo over the case till July 11.
He was referring to the Supreme Court's move on Monday of keeping in abeyance the disqualification proceedings before the Deputy Speaker of the state Assembly till July 11.
"The MVA will have to move the apex court against the governor's letter for a floor test. The deputy speaker (of the Assembly) will have to recognise the split in the Shiv Sena legislature party. The rebel MLAs have to give a letter that they have the support of the two-thirds of the legislature party and that they have merged with another party," he said.
Chavan said if the rebels vote against the confidence motion moved by the MVA government, then they stand to be disqualified.
Rebel MLAs' next move
Meanwhile, the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, who are staying at a five-star hotel in Assam's Guwahati, will have to return to Mumbai to participate in the trust vote. According to sources, the MLAs will fly to a neighbouring state of Maharashtra later Wednesday.
The MLAs, who have been camping in Guwahati for the past week, are likely to leave for Goa this afternoon, en route Mumbai.
A SpiceJet aircraft has been hired and the flight is expected to leave Guwahati's Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport for Goa's Dabolim airport at around 3 p.m., sources privy to the development told PTI.
The 39 rebel Shiva Sena MLAs and some independent MLAs are going to travel together in one aircraft to Goa and from there they are likely to travel to Mumbai.
(with PTI inputs)