The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar over the pending disqualification petitions against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and fellow Shiv Sena rebels.
The SC issued the notice to Narwekar and sought a response from him on a plea seeking a direction to expeditiously adjudicate the disqualification petitions. The disqualification pleas were filed last year after Shinde along with the majority of Sena MLAs rebelled against the then-CM Uddhav Thackery. The Thackeray-led coalition government fell and Shinde and his loyalist MLAs joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to split Sena into two factions and form the government.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud passed the order while hearing a plea filed by Uddhav faction MLA Sunil Prabhu, who as the chief whip of the undivided Shiv Sena had in 2022 filed the disqualification petitions against Shinde and his fellow rebel MLAs.
"We will issue notice returnable in two weeks," said the SC, as per PTI.
In his plea, Prabhu has alleged that Narwekar is deliberately delaying the adjudication despite the May 11 verdict of the apex court.
"The petitioner is constrained to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, in light of the respondent Speaker's conduct in choosing to deliberately delay the adjudication of the disqualification petitions filed by the petitioner against the delinquent members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly," said the plea, as per PTI.
It said the speaker, despite the categorical direction of the top court in its May 11 judgment that the pending disqualification petitions must be decided within a reasonable period, has chosen to not conduct a single hearing, reported PTI.
Earlier on May 11, the Supreme Court ruled that it cannot ordinarily adjudicate on disqualification pleas under the anti-defection rule and directed the Speaker to take a decision on the pleas within a "reasonable period", according to Hindustan Times. In the same order, the SC also censured the then-Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for calling upon Thackeray to prove his majority.
Following the SC's notice on Friday, Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted, "Time up for the traitor gang!"