New Delhi: In a relief to rebel Shiv Sena lawmakers, the Supreme Court Monday kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings before the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly till July 11 and sought responses to pleas by rebel MLAs questioning the legality of notices seeking their disqualification.
The top court, however, refused to pass any interim order on the plea of the Maharashtra government that there should not be any floor test in the Assembly and said they can always approach it in case of illegality.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala directed the Maharashtra government to protect the life, liberty, and property of 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and their family members.
While issuing notice to the Maharashtra deputy speaker, the top court directed him to put on affidavit records of no trust notice served upon him by rebel MLAs.
The top court also recorded the statement of Maharashtra's counsel that adequate steps have been taken to protect the life and property of rebel MLAs.
The matter will now be heard on July 11.
Rebel Sena camp buoyant
There was jubilation in the rebel Shiv Sena legislators' camp after the Supreme Court proceedings on Monday while hectic politicking started in the Bharatiya Janata Party and the mood turned sombre in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Rebel leader Minister Eknath Shinde tweeted in Hindi: "This is the victory of Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva and the ideology of Dharmveer Anand Dighe."
The faction - currently in a Guwahati hotel - erupted into joy and celebrations after the apex court ruling and also expressed gratitude to the Centre for providing security to the rebel MLAs and their families.
Shinde is reported to have initiated the process to finalise and send a letter to the Maharashtra Governor that they have withdrawn support to the MVA government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress.
On the Opposition side, the BJP's core committee meeting got underway with top leaders present to finalise their strategy to form the next government in the state, possibly with the help of the rebel group.
Shinde has claimed the support of 39 Sena MLAs, and 11 independents or other parties, totalling to 48, and the group is likely to extend its sojourn in Assam by a few more days.
Several leaders joining the meeting were seen beaming in anticipation and some flashed the 'V' sign, indicating an upbeat mood.
Hitting out again, MVA Minister Aditya Thackeray alleged that many of the MLAs were misled or abducted to join the rebel group and the party is ready to take them back.
"If the rebels had courage, they would have first resigned and faced the electorate instead of all this," said Thackeray Jr.
Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said that "this a legal battle and will continue" and said the party will fight it out.