The Supreme Court issued notice in all petitions related to the political crisis in Maharashtra and gave parties time to file replies in the matter.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said few matters and issues raised may require consideration by a larger bench.
It also pondered over the question,
“Does minority in party have right to dissolve appointments made by majority? These have to be decided.”
The matter will be next heard on August 1 now.
The Court was hearing a batch of petitions by Shiv Sena MLAs including one by new Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde which challenged the disqualification proceedings initiated against them by the Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
The Shiv Sena faction of Uddhav Thackeray was represented by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who argued, “Act of Shiv Sena by voting contrary to the official whip stands in violation of the Tenth Schedule. Governor could not have sworn in an individual who had sought to separate himself from the party elected by the people and thus disqualified under Tenth Schedule.”
Appearing for Sunil Prabhu, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “This departing faction of Shiv Sena, one day before departing to Guwahati, sent a letter to the Deputy Speaker seeking his removal by email. This email is by an unauthorized email. The Deputy Speaker takes it, seizes it and says it is not on record…what is amazing is this letter is now on affidavit by the current Speaker of the Assembly. You are seeking to use the principle of Nabam Ria which is not applicable here. You cannot create a non-genuine situation…”
While describing the majority attained by the Shinde faction as a “contrived majority”, Singhvi said there has been no merger with the BJP, and hence, the MLAs are liable to be disqualified on grounds of defection.
“Your Lordships should uphold the purity of the process and thereby uphold Tenth Schedule, otherwise it will be just a mockery of the institution,” he submitted.
Harish Salve, who appeared on behalf of Shinde, said, “Heavens don’t fall if a Chief Minister is changed. Let’s get into if the Speaker was appointed as per law and not on crisis of democracy and all that.”
He further said that if you move from the party you shall be removed, is already been dropped of from the Tenth Schedule. he also said that the Court has never interfered in the working of a political party.
CJI Ramana said: “This is a sensitive case politically the court cannot give an impression that we are tilted. That is why we are saying thought process, thanks to media.”
Salve contended that the Court’s interference under Article 32 or even Article 226 of the Constitution is not warranted in this case and that and asked that the court should adjourn the matter for a week.
CJI Ramana said a larger bench should be referred to look into the case: “Some of the issues, I feel, will need a larger bench…Reference might be necessary. We can have that if all of you agree on that aspect.”
The CJI asked the counsel that what if a CM does not enjoy confidence of his party despite being leader in Legislative Assembly?
Kapil Sibal said, “Political party has to take a call. They have to say he does not enjoy our confidence. He happens to be the leader, hasn’t become so just like that.”
The Court requested the parties to prepare one common compilation by Thursday, and proceeded to list the matter on August 1.