The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list a petition by Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena challenging the order of Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar on the dismissal of disqualification pleas against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde faction MLAs.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the Thackeray group mentioned the matter for early listing of the case saying it can be listed else elections are to be held.
Sibal said the case was supposed to be listed for hearing today but it is not listed. “It was to be listed today. If it can be listed… else elections are to be held,” he said.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, “Yes, we will list it.”
Last month, the Supreme Court issued notice to Shinde and 38 MLAs of his group on Sunil Prabhu’s (Thackeray faction) plea challenging the Speaker’s order.
Shinde group had approached the Bombay High Court challenging the refusal of the Speaker to disqualify the Uddhav Thackeray group and the High Court issued notice on the Shinde group’s petition.
In the apex court, along with the Maharashtra Speaker’s decision not to disqualify Shinde and his group, Thackeray faction also challenged the order of Speaker to recognise the Shinde faction as the ‘real Shiv Sena’ after its split in June 2022.
The Speaker’s decision came on January 10, nearly two years after Thackeray’s camp moved disqualification petitions against Shinde and his supporting legislators under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
Approaching the apex court against the Maharashtra Speaker Narwekar’s decision dismissing the disqualification petitions against Shinde and 38 “rebel” Shiv Sena legislators, the Thackeray faction said the decision was a “colourable” exercise of power based on “extraneous and irrelevant” considerations.
Earlier, the top court had asked the Speaker to decide expeditiously the disqualification petitions pending before him.
The disqualification petitions against the rebel MLAs were filed by Sunil Prabhu, the Shiv Sena party whip appointed by Uddhav Thackeray, on June 23, 2022, after the MLAs revolted against Thackeray.
In May last year, 11 five-judge Constitution bench had held that it could not disqualify the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government and reinstate Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minster because the latter had chosen to resign instead of facing a test of strength in the Assembly.
In August 2022, the top court’s three-judge bench referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the issues involved in the petition filed by rival groups of Shiv Sena about the Maharashtra political crisis.
On June 29, 2022, the top court gave a go-ahead to the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on June 30. It had refused to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority support on the floor of the House on June 30.
After the apex court’s order, Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation as the Chief Minister and Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as the Chief Minister.