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Supreme Court to hear Eknath Shinde’s petition against disqualification of MLAs tomorrow

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The Supreme Court will hear tomorrow the petition filed by rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, along with his faction, against the disqualification notices issued to 16 rebel MLAs of the Maharashtra Assembly.

In a separate petition, Shinde also challenged the appointment of Ajay Choudhari as the Legislature Party leader of Shiv Sena.

A Bench comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.B. Pardiwala will hear the matter.

The petition sought a stay on the disqualification notice issued by the Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly to Shinde and 15 other MLAs, summoning them on Monday.

It further sought quashing of the order passed by the Deputy Speaker, recognising Ajai Choudhari as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader.

As per the petition, the disqualification petition was not maintainable as Shinde’s faction enjoyed majority support from the Shiv Sena party and they have not given up their memberships.

It further said the notice was not maintainable as it challenged an act of the majority members, who in any case, had been acting on the instructions of the party leader and Chief Whip elected by the majority.

The petitioners alleged that the orders passed by the Deputy Speaker were hands-in-gloves with the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.

The petition said the Deputy Speaker did not give the parties seven-day time to respond to the disqualification notice and instead, only granted them 48 hours to reply, which was against the Disqualification Rules and the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules.

It further contended that a no-confidence motion was pending, seeking removal of the Deputy Speaker and as per the 2016 judgement in the case of Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix vs Deputy Speaker Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Ors, the Deputy Speaker was ineligible to decide any disqualification petition, till the pending motion was decided.

It further challenged the recognition of Ajay Choudhari as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader by the Deputy Speaker on the ground that Choudhari was declared SSLP, despite belonging to the minority faction of Shiv Sena.

The plea said rebel MLA Bharat Gogawale, who had been selected as Legislature Party leader by Shinde’s faction, ought to have been considered for the post.

The MLAs belonging to Shinde camp will be able to watch the live proceedings of hearing in the Supreme Court, with the help of links given to the lawyers arguing in the case.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi will appear for the Uddhav camp, while Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will represent the Government of India.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kaushal Kaul will argue on behalf of the Shinde faction, while Senior Advocate Devdutt Kamat will appear for Maharashtra government. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal will appear for the Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly.

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