Sunday, December 4, 2022

Maharashtra: Supreme Court directs Speaker not to act on disqualification petitions

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra Assembly’s new Speaker, Rahul Narwekar, not to take any action on the new disqualification notices issued to 53 Shiv Sena MLAs.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray camp, mentioned this matter before the Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana.

Seeking urgent listing of the plea, Sibal said, “The disqualification plea is listed tomorrow before the Speaker. Let there be no disqualification till the matter is decided.”

CJI Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the Maharashtra Government, “Please inform the assembly speaker not to take any decision unless the plea is decided.”

The CJI also made it clear, “This matter will require constitution of bench and will take some time to be listed. Not tomorrow. But inform the Speaker what we said.”

There are at least four petitions that are pending before the Apex Court on the issue in which Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu is a party.

The first two writ petitions pertain to petitions filed by Shiv Sena MLAs challenging the disqualification proceedings initiated by the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly on disqualification petitions filed by Sunil Prabhu.

The third writ petition was filed by Sunil Prabhu which challenged the summoning of Assembly by the Governor of Maharashtra for a floor test as illegal.

The fourth is a petition challenging the illegal order of the newly appointed Speaker removing Ajay Chaudhary and Sunil Prabhu respectively from the posts of Leader as well as Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party.

The problems began in Maharashtra after Cabinet Minister, and now new Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde and a rebel group of MLAs left the State left for Surat and later to Guwahati.

The reason given by Shinde and other ministers who left was that they had problems with Shiv Sena’s allies. They expressed displeasure with the alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, which was headed by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray earlier.

Few of the rebel MLAs had received disqualification notices from the Deputy Speaker for acting against party whip while voting for the MLC elections in the State.

The MLA who were given notice moved the Apex Court against disqualification notices. On June 27,the Supreme Court gave interim relief to the rebel minister and his group by extending the time to file response to the disqualification notice sent by the Deputy Speaker till July 12.

Also, the Court on June 29 allowed the permission for floor test called for by the Governor.

The floor test was in favour of Shinde and others and eventually led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Uddhav Thackeray, who resigned. Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as chief minister.

Later, a new Speaker was elected and sent disqualification notices to 53 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs.

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