Supreme Court to hear Shinde faction on maintainability of UBT led Shiv Sena's plea against dismissal of disqualification petitions

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Senior Advocate Harish Salve contended today that the instant issue could not be simultaneously heard in two different courts as the Shinde faction had already approached the Bombay High Court challenging the same order of the Maharashtra Speaker whereby it refused to disqualify Uddhav faction MLAs.

The Supreme Court today adjourned the hearing in the plea by Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena challenging the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker's decision of January 10, 2024 dismissing its disqualification petition filed against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other MLAs.

CJI DY Chandrachud led bench did so due to paucity of time. Court further ordered that on the next date of hearing it would hear the Shinde faction first on the aspect of maintainability.

The Supreme Court had on January 22, 2024 issued notice in the plea filed by Sunil Prabhu, part of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, challenging the Speaker's dismissal of the disqualification petitions.

CJI DY Chandrachud had last week agreed to hear the plea by Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena challenging the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker's decision of January 10, 2024.

The party has questioned the Speaker's decision, which "erroneously" holds that the 2018 leadership structure cannot be relied upon as it purportedly does not conform with the provisions of the Shiv Sena's Constitution.

Claiming the Speaker's decisions as "unlawful and perverse", it claimed, "All impugned decisions are premised on a common finding that the majority of legislators represented the will of the political party, and therefore, they are not liable for disqualification. This amounts to a complete inversion of the Tenth Schedule". 

It contended that the decision by the Speaker was against the Supreme Court's judgment in 'Subhash Desai Vs Governor of Maharashtra' (2022), as it conflated the concept of ‘legislature party’ with the ‘political party’ and held that since the faction led by Eknath Shinde has a ‘legislative majority’, the same has to be considered as the ‘real political party’.

Last month, the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray had also filed an application in the Supreme Court bringing to its notice the Assembly Speaker's meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on January 7, ahead of him pronouncing the verdict in the disqualification petitions, terming it as "highly improper".

Supreme Court had earlier given a 'last chance' to the Maharashtra Speaker to come up with a schedule to hear the disqualification petitions pending before him. Court was visibly irked with the Speaker giving interviews saying that court is a co-equal branch of the government and not doing his job.

On October 13, 2023 Supreme Court had asked the Speaker to hear the disqualification petitions pending before him on a day-to-day basis and decide them before the upcoming elections.

Cause Title: Sunil Prabhu vs. The Speaker, Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly