SC asks Maharashtra Speaker to defer disqualification proceedings against CM Eknath Shinde, others

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said the court would take some time to list the pending petitions regarding the disqualification process as it had to constitute a Bench for it

July 11, 2022 11:57 am | Updated 08:36 pm IST - New Delhi

Supreme Court of India. File

Supreme Court of India. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Monday asked Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to defer for the time being the disqualification proceedings initiated against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 other "dissident" Shiv Sena MLAs for defection.

The Speaker had also started disqualification process against 14 Shiv Sena MLAs for voting against the whip issued by the Shinde-led faction.

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana asked lawyers representing the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly secretariat to inform the Speaker's office to not list the disqualification proceedings on July 12.

The CJI said the court would take some time to list the pending petitions regarding the disqualification process as it had to constitute a Bench for it.

The case was originally slated to be listed for hearing on July 11 in the top court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Governor, assured the CJI that he would personally inform the Speaker's office about the court's request.

Uddhav Thackeray camp’s apprehension

In an oral mentioning, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray camp, voiced their apprehension that the Speaker may take up the disqualification proceedings on July 12 and dismiss them outright before the court had a chance to hear the petitions and decide.

"The case was supposed to be listed today in court. Somehow it has not been listed. The disqualification proceedings are however listed before the Speaker tomorrow. They may just dismiss the disqualification petitions tomorrow itself while petitions are still pending in this court," Mr. Sibal submitted.

"Please inform the Speaker not to take up the petitions for hearing. Let us see... We will list the matter... But I am not listing the matter tomorrow. It will take some time for constitution of Bench, etc. Meanwhile, please inform the Speaker's office," Chief Justice Ramana said.

Mr. Shinde and his camp had separately challenged the disqualification notices issued by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zariwal on June 25. They had argued that they were given hardly 48 hours, until June 27 5.30 p.m., to submit their responses to the notices.

On June 27, a Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court had decided to give the "rebel" MLAs "breathing time" and extended the period for submitting their replies to the disqualification notices till July 12.

On June 29, Mr. Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government fell hours after the Supreme Court had refused to stay a floor test called for by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on June 30.

Following this, the Governor had invited Mr. Shinde to form the new government.

Mr. Zariwal has already filed an affidavit in court denying any illegality in giving just 48 hours' time to then MLA Mr. Shinde and 15 legislators of his camp to respond to disqualification notices issued for defection.

The Thackeray camp has also approached the top court separately, accusing the Governor of acting under the “guidance of his political masters” to recognise 39 “rebel” MLAs of the Shiv Sena by inviting Mr. Shinde to be the Chief Minister

Thackeray loyalists have also challenged Mr. Narwekar's decision to recognise the appointment of Mr. Shinde's man Bharat Gogawale as the new chief whip of the Shiv Sena.

The court had previously directed all these petitions to be listed on July 11.

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