Amid the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of crucial petitions pertaining to the matter on Monday, 11 July.
Among recent developments, the apex court asked the newly-elected Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar not to proceed with the plea seeking disqualification of MLAs of Shiv Sena faction led by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Monday's SC hearings are crucial for the near future of Maharashtra's politics. Both the Shinde and Uddhav camps have filed pleas against each other following the power grab that ensued in wake of rebel Sena leader present CM Eknath Shinde packing off to Assam with a faction of rebel MLAs to challenge the Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) coalition government led by Uddhav Thackeray. The fact, which had the support of the BJP, proved its majority in a floor test earlier in the month after which Shine was named as the new CM.
A look at the four crucial petitions being heard by SC today:
Petition 1: Governor's Call
On June 30, former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena camp filed a plea against the Maharashtra Governor's decision to invite rebel Sena MLAs of the Eknath Shinde faction to form a government in the state. The rebel MLAs had the support of the BJP. Thackeray camp has called the Governor's decision to invite Shine to be sworn in as the new CM an "illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary" decision. After the Assembly proceedings conducted on July 3 and 4, which the Thackeray camp objected to, Shinde won the confidence vote with the support of the BJP.
The validity of the Assembly proceedings conducted on 3 and 4 July when BJP MLA Rahul Narwekar was elected as new Maharashtra Assembly speaker has also been challenged in the petition. The plea also raises concerns regarding the validity of the floor test that resulted in the victory of Shinde camp after the Sena rebels-BJP coalition proved their majority.
Petition 2: Battle of Whips
Team Thackeray has also challenged the newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly speaker's act of recognizing the whip declared by the camp supporting present CM Eknath Shinde as the party whip. The newly-elected Speaker Rahul Narvekar recognised the nominee backed by Shinde’s camp as the party’s chief whip following which the Thaclkeray faction moved court demanding a stay. As per arguments made by team Thackeray in court on July 1, the speaker did not have the jurisdiction to recognise whips as such decions are a matter concerning "the political party, not the legislature party".
Petition 3: Sunil Prabhu vs Rebels
Sena leader Sunil Prabhu from the Thackeray camp has also moved the apex court for the suspension of 16 rebel Sena MLAs until the end of the disqualification proceedings initiated against them. Prabhu, who is the chief whip of Uddhav camp, moved court on June 30 seeking the suspension of Shinde and the 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending from Maharashtra Assembly. The MLAs that form part of the breakaway faction of 38 Sena legislators in Shinde camp were sent disqualification notices by Maharashtra deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal earlier in June.
Petition 4: Shinde's Revolt
Team Shinde has also filed a petition in court challenging the disqualification proceedings initiated against the rebel leaders. The petitions moved by MLAs from Shinde camp last month challenge the disqualification notices sent to the rebels by Maharashtra deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal on June 21. The petitioners claim that the amount of the notice to a violation of India's anti-defection law, purporting that the MVA coalition government is acting out of vengeance.
In the writ petition, Shinde stated that the deputy speaker did not have the authority to invoke the provisions of the Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of Defection) Rules, 1986 against rebels MLAs at a time when the MVA government was reduced to a minority.
Shinde along with 15 other MLAs that form part of the breakaway faction of 38 Sena legislators, were sent disqualification notices by Maharashtra deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal on June 21.