The Supreme Court on Thursday addressed former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on how there is an “absolute” lack of freedom within regional political parties, which are mostly run by single families.
“There is absolutely no freedom in regional parties, except for one leader. Many a times, it is a family which runs it and there is no scope of anybody else coming into the frame. There is no alternative… it is impossible,” Justice P.S. Narasimha, one of the five judges on the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, orally observed.
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The remark came during the final day of the hearing of the political dispute between Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Mr. Thackeray on the control of the Shiv Sena party and the circumstances that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the State in 2022.
The Bench reserved the case for judgment.
Justice Narasimha’s observation came when senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for Mr. Thackeray’s side, said constitutional law found it “suspect” when legislators, suddenly, as a group, at the same time, one day, decided to resign from a ruling coalition, as was seen in Madhya Pradesh. The Kamal Nath government had fallen when some Congress MLAs resigned and joined rival BJP.
However, in Maharashtra, Mr. Shinde and his supporters had not resigned. “Naturally, they did not resign because they felt they would want to be Ministers in the new government. Resigning would have meant contesting elections, which they may or may not have won,” Mr. Sibal submitted.
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The Chief Justice asked whether the Governor, oblivious to the provisions of the Tenth Schedule, could call for a trust vote if a group of MLAs came to him saying they have left the ruling party.
“Forget the Tenth Schedule, he (Governor) cannot call for a trust vote by recognising a faction in a political party which has no identity... which has no constitutional identity. They (these MLAs) cannot be seen as a group. They are individuals. There is no concept of a group within a legislature. Each is an individual. Government formation is only on alliances… Therefore, calling a trust vote should also be based on alliances,” Mr. Sibal responded.
The Chief Justice paraphrased Mr. Sibal’s reply by saying that, according to the senior lawyer, the Governor could only call for a trust vote if a member-party in a coalition shifts and not when individuals within a party leave.