Supreme Court refuses stay on Election Commission order granting Shiv Sena name, symbol to Eknath Shinde camp

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the decision of the Election Commission of India, which recognised the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as the official Shiv Sena.

The three-Judge Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala issued notice on the petition filed by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that challenged the February 17 decision of the Commission. 

However, the Apex Court permitted the Uddhav Thackeray group to retain the name Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the flaming torch symbol in terms of paragraph 133 (IV) of the ECI order during the pendency of the matter. 

The Commission had allowed the interim arrangement in view of the by-elections to the Maharashtra Assembly, scheduled to be held on February 26.

The Advocates appearing for the Shinde faction gave a verbal undertaking that no precipitative action would be taken against the Uddhav Thackeray group regarding the disqualification proceedings.

Appearing for the Uddhav camp, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal sought a status quo order, alleging that offices and bank accounts of the erstwhile Shiv Sena party were being taken over by the Shinde group

The Bench declined to issue directions, observing that it cannot decide on something, which was not part of the order.

The Apex Court further refused to stay the ECI order at this stage on the grounds that the Eknath Shinde camp succeeded before the ECI.

Noting that any further action would not be based on the ECI order, the top court of the country directed the Uddhav faction to pursue other remedies of law.

Representing the Shinde camp, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul raised a preliminary objection on the maintainability of the special leave petition filed by Uddhav Thackeray in the Supreme Court directly against the ECI order, without approaching the High Court.

He argued that on previous occasions, Uddhav had approached the Delhi High Court against interim orders of the ECI. The Counsel further rejected the argument of Uddhav camp that the petition was maintainable in the Supreme Court as the Constitution Bench was hearing other issues.

Sibal responded by saying that the basis of the Election Commission's decision was the legislative majority claimed by Shinde. 

The legality of that majority was the very same issue before the Constitution Bench. He further said that there was no point approaching the High Court when the issue was pending before the Supreme Court. 

(Case title: Uddhav Thackeray vs Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde And Anr)