Sena Vs Sena: SC to consider listing of Thackeray group's plea against Maha CM Shinde, MLAs

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Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde speaking during the 58th Foundation Day of Shiv Sena, in Mumbai, Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde speaking during the 58th Foundation Day of Shiv Sena, in Mumbai, Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider listing of a plea of the Uddhav Thackeray faction challenging Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar's order declaring the Shiv Sena bloc led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as the "real political party" after its split in June 2022.

The speaker had also dismissed the disqualification petitions of the Thackeray faction against CM Shinde and his supporting MLAs.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoh Misra was urged by senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for UBT leader Sunil Prabhu, that the plea needed to be listed for hearing as even the term of the assembly is nearing its end.

"I will see," the CJI said and asked the senior lawyer to circulate an e-mail to this effect.

On January 22, the top court had issued notices to the chief minister and other lawmakers of his group on the plea of Prabhu, a leader of the Uddhav Thackeray faction.

The Thackeray faction has alleged that Shinde "unconstitutionally usurped power" and is heading an "unconstitutional government".

In his order passed on January 10, Speaker Narwekar had also rejected the Thackeray faction's plea to disqualify 16 MLAs of the ruling camp, including Shinde.

Challenging the orders passed by the Speaker, the Thackeray faction has claimed they are "patently unlawful and perverse" and that instead of punishing the act of defection, they reward the defectors by holding that they comprise the real political party.

"All impugned decisions are premised on a common finding that the majority of legislators represented the will of the political party, and therefore, they are not liable for disqualification," the plea said.

In his ruling on the disqualification petitions, the speaker did not disqualify any MLA belonging to the rival camps.

The speaker's ruling further cemented Shinde's position as the chief minister, 18 months after he led a rebellion against Thackeray, and added to his political heft in the ruling coalition, which also consists of the BJP and the NCP (Ajit Pawar group).

Narwekar had said no party leadership can use provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) to quell dissent or indiscipline within a party.

The Shinde group had the support of 37 out of the total 54 Sena MLAs when the party split in June 2022, the speaker had noted.

The Election Commission had given the 'Shiv Sena' name and 'bow and arrow' symbol to the Shinde-led faction in early 2023.

In his order on the disqualification petitions filed by the Shinde-led Sena and the rival Thackeray faction against each other's MLAs, Narwekar had said Sunil Prabhu of the Sena (UBT) ceased to be the whip from June 21, 2022 (when the party split) and legislator Bharat Gogawale of the Shinde group became the authorised whip.

The speaker had also held that the Shiv Sena 'pramukh' (chief) did not have the power to remove any leader from the party. He did not accept the argument that the will of the party chief and the will of the party were synonymous.