Updated: Thu, 04 Aug 2022 12:09 PM IST
The Uddhav Thackeray faction on Thursday got relief from the Supreme Court after it asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) not to decide over the plea filed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his supporters for its recognition as the "real Shiv Sena" and allotting it the original 'bow and arrow' symbol.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also said that the top poll body can adjourn the case if the Thackeray faction seeks time to file its response over Shinde faction's plea. The court said it would take a call by August 8 on referring the matters related to the recent Maharashtra political crisis to a constitution bench.
"Heard all counsels. Counsels submitted issues. We will decide whether to refer matter to 5 judges constitution bench. The EC has decided august 8 to submit reply by Uddhav faction. They will seek time. EC to grant reasonable adjournment. We will take a call by Monday," CJI Ramana was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.
This comes a day after the Thackeray faction told the apex court that MLAs loyal to Shinde can save themselves from disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution only by merging with another political party.
On this, the court asked Shinde faction to redraft the legal issues of split, merger, defection and disqualification raised in petitions filed by the Thackeray camp that are to be adjudicated upon following the recent political crisis in Maharashtra.
But the Shinde faction said that the anti-defection law is not a weapon for a leader who has lost the confidence of his own party to lock his members and somehow hang on. It said it is not the case where the MLAs have voluntarily given up their membership of the political party.
"The basic premise of anti-defection law is when you leave your political party. Nobody has found any disqualification. Mr Sibal has elaborately demolished a defence which nobody has set up. Today, if there is a divide within the party, and you are called for a party meeting, you are not defying a whip in the House," it said, as reported by news agency PTI.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had said that some of the issues involved in the Maharashtra political crisis may require to a larger Constitutional bench for consideration. It had also asked the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, not to take any action on the new disqualification notices issued against the members of Shiv Sena.
There are various petitions pending before the apex court filed by both the factions of Shiv Sena.
Uddhav Thackeray-led faction had approached the top court challenging the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari's decision to invite Eknath Shinde to form the government and also the Speaker's election and floor test. Recently they had challenged the Shinde group approaching poll panel claiming they are 'real Shiv Sena'.
They had also challenged the newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker's action recognising the whip of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde group as the whip of Shiv Sena. The plea said the newly appointed Speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise whips nominated by Shinde as Uddhav Thackeray is still the head of the Shiv Sena official party.
Thackeray camp's Sunil Prabhu had filed plea seeking suspension from the Maharashtra Assembly of new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
Shinde group's challenged the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to 16 rebel MLAs as well as the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader, is also pending before the apex court.
On June 29, the top court gave a go-ahead to the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on June 30. Refusing to stay the Maharashtra Governor's direction to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority support on the floor of the House on June 30, the bench had issued notice on Prabhu's plea against floor test.
After the apex court's order, Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation as the Chief Minister and Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as the Chief Minister. On June 27, the top court granted interim relief to Shinde and other rebel MLAs to file their reply on disqualification notices issued to them by Deputy Speaker by July 12. Earlier, Deputy Speaker had granted them time to file a reply by June 27.
(With inputs from agencies)