SC's Constitution bench reserves verdict on pleas related to Maharashtra political tussle between Uddhav, Shinde factions

DN Bureau

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the verdict on a batch of petitions filed by rival factions Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis. Read further on Dynamite News:

Uddhav Thackeray (L), Supreme Court, Eknath Shinde
Uddhav Thackeray (L), Supreme Court, Eknath Shinde

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the verdict on a batch of petitions filed by rival factions Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis. Five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha was dealing with the issue related to Maharashtra political crisis.

The court reserved the order after all the parties concluded their arguments. During the hearing, CJI DY Chandrachud noted that the Uddhav Thackeray govt chose not to face a trust vote. Justice MR Shah asked how can the court reinstate the CM who did not even face the floor test.

The lawyer appearing for Uddhav camp said that the illegal act of the Governor is a prior pending sub judice challenge before the trust vote. In today's hearing Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Uddhav Camp said that political party has primacy in the relationship between the legislature and political party, Kapil Sibal argued that the constitution doesn't recognise any faction whether there is a majority of a minority. Sibal further argued that the dissent is outside the house not inside the house.

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud sought to know from the lawyer of the Uddhav camp whether the governor cannot look at the number of members who say they want to withdraw support. CJI noted that there were groups who don't want to support the government and may face disqualification, which can affect the strength of the house.

Kapil Sibal replied that this used to take place when there was no tenth schedule of the constitution and they are going back to a stage with no tenth schedule. Kapil Sibal said that the governor cannot call for a trust vote based on a faction as calling for a trust vote is based on alliances. He said that suddenly some members decided to withdraw support.

Justice Narasimha remarked that such an argument could sometimes be dangerous observing there are many regional parties that are run by one family and there is absolutely no freedom in the party except for one leader. Justice Narasimha said that there is no scope for anyone else to come into the frame and the lawyer is interpreting the constitution to say that it's just not possible for any legislator.

Kapil Sibal replied that this is his grievance and give examples of the US and the UK and said in the US, where a president of the Republican party will reach out to Democrats to get a bill passed. During the argument, Sibal argued that disloyalty is for a price that has secured Ekanth Shinde the position of Chief Minister.

During the hearing, the court noted that a merger was not an option for the Shinde camp because it was not their case as a merger may lead to losing their political identity as Shivsena is gone. The court also noted Shinde camp is saying they don't want to leave, they are Shivsena.

The Supreme Court's Constitution bench has earlier said it will decide later on referring the cases related to the Maharashtra political crisis to a larger seven-judge bench for reconsideration of a 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment on powers of Assembly Speakers to deal with disqualification pleas.

The hearing that went on for almost nine days had witnesses and arguments made by various senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi for the Uddhav camp and Harish Salve, NK Kaul, and Mahesh Jethmalani for the Shinde camp. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Maharashtra Governor and explained to the court about the governor's decision to call for a floor test after a rival camp wrote that they are withdrawing support from Uddhav Thackeray-led government as they don't want to continue.

During the hearing, the court observed that the governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government and called Maharashtra's political crisis a serious issue for democracy. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, arguing on behalf of the Maharashtra governor, has apprised the court of the fact that the rival legislators had written to the governor about their unwillingness to continue with the then government and the governor has invited Thackeray to prove his majority.

Uddhav Thackeray camp had submitted before the Supreme Court that if a crisis like Maharastra political is permitted then it will have far-reaching consequences for the country as any government can be toppled. Uddhav Thackeray's camp had also submitted that the opposite camp has no defense under the tenth schedule.

Shinde Camp had argued before the Supreme Court that the head counting is not meant for taking place in Raj Bhavan but on the floor of the house and the governor did nothing wrong by calling the floor test.

Countering the argument of the rival Uddhav camp, Senior Advocate NK Kaul, appearing on behalf of the Shinde camp, said that political party and legislative party are conjoined and connected and the argument made by the Uddhav camp that the other fictions represent the legislative party and not a political party is a fallacy. He has also said that dissent is the hallmark of democracy.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's camp had earlier apprised the Supreme Court about Shiv Sena party's pre-poll alliance with BJP and reiterated their claim on the right of the party. (ANI)

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