SC asks Maha Speaker not to proceed with disqualification of Uddhav-faction Sena MLAs

Supreme court | Shutterstock images

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked newly-elected Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar not to proceed with the plea seeking disqualification of MLAs of Shiv Sena faction led by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions of senior advocates led by Kapil Sibal that several pleas of the Uddhav faction, which were to be listed on Monday, have not been listed for hearing.

The court had said the petitions would be listed on July 11. I urge that there should be no disqualification till the matter is decided here, Sibal said, adding that earlier the top court had protected the rebel MLAs when they had approached it.

Our disqualification petition is listed tomorrow before the speaker... Either way, there should not be any disqualification till the matter is decided. These matters have to be decided here, the senior lawyer said.

Mr (Tushar) Mehta (Solicitor General who was appearing for the Governor), You please inform the assembly speaker not to take any hearing. Let us see, we will hear the matter, the bench said.

The solicitor general (SG) said though he was appearing for Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, he would convey the message to the assembly speaker.

The court said the matter be listed after Tuesday after setting up of the bench.

The Thackeray faction has been filing several pleas in the top court after the rebel Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde formed a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in the state.

The Thackeray faction has also challenged the validity of assembly proceedings held on July 3 and July 4 in which a new speaker of the House was elected and subsequent proceedings of floor test in which the Shinde-led coalition had proved its majority.

It has also filed a plea challenging the decision of the newly-elected Speaker to recognise the new party whip of Shiv Sena rebels led by CM Shinde.

Prior to this, chief whip Sunil Prabhu of the Thackeray faction had moved the top court seeking suspension from assembly the chief minister and 15 rebel MLAs against whom the disqualification pleas are pending.

The vacation bench of the court had on June 27 granted interim relief to the Shinde faction by extending the time for replying to the disqualification notices sent to 16 rebel Sena MLAs till July 12.

On June 29, the Maharashtra governor ordered a floor test leading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to rush to the top court seeking its deferment.

The bench refused to stay the direction of the Governor to the 31-month-old MVA government to take a floor test in the Assembly to prove its majority after which the then beleaguered chief minister Uddhav Thackeray quit office.

After Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, Prabhu moved to the top court seeking his suspension and of 15 rebels on various grounds, alleging that they are acting as pawns of the BJP, thereby committing the constitutional sin of defection.

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