The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly on a petition by Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) seeking a direction to decide the disqualification petitions against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other MLAs within a specified time, preferably two weeks. .
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud asked Speaker Rahul Narwekar to respond within two weeks.
Senior advocate Devdatta Kamat and advocate Nishant Patil appeared for party chief whip Sunil Prabhu in the writ petition.
It was claimed before the court that the Speaker had issued notices to the “delinquent” legislators only after an urgent petition was filed in the apex court.
Read on Court cannot set time limit for Speaker to take decision: Norwaykar on legislative disqualification
The petitioner claimed that the speaker’s inaction in deciding the disqualification process was “an act of grave constitutional impropriety” as it allowed MLAs, liable to be disqualified, to continue in the assembly and hold positions of responsibility in the Maharashtra government, including chief minister.
The disqualification petitions have been pending for over a year, the petition said.
It also claimed that after the May 11, 2023 Supreme Court decision, the situation became more heated, with the Speaker consciously shirking his duties.
The plea contends that the Speaker, by his inaction, has clearly proved that he is incapable of acting as a fair and impartial tribunal under the Tenth Schedule, as required by law.
The petition was filed on July 4 – two days after NCP’s Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs joined the Shinde government with the support of the BJP. The NCP was an important component of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Thackeray.
The Thackeray group’s fresh petition also stated that the Speaker has not convened any meeting on the pending disqualification petition since June 23, 2022 despite sending three representations to him following the Supreme Court’s May 11, 2023 order of the Constitution Bench. He decides the matter within a reasonable time.
“However, the Speaker, in brazen disregard of his constitutional duty as an impartial arbitrator, has attempted to delay the adjudication of the disqualification petition, thereby allowing Shinde to continue illegally as Chief Minister, against whom the disqualification petition is pending,” the petition stated.
The petition contends that in the present case, the delinquent MLAs against whom disqualification petitions are pending, have blatantly committed unconstitutional acts, which in turn invite disqualification under paras 2(1)(a), 2(1)(b), and 2 . (2) of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution (Anti-Defection Act).
Read on Shinde-led Shiv Sena, Uddhav group MLAs get notices seeking reply on disqualification
The petition further maintained that it is constitutionally imperative for this Court to issue appropriate directions that the provisions of the Tenth Schedule do not stand abrogated simply because of the inaction of the Speaker.
A total of 16 disqualification petitions were filed on June 23, 2022, and notices were issued by the Deputy Speaker (Acting Speaker) on June 25, 2022, giving rebel MLAs time to file their replies by June 27, 2022. The application said.
The Supreme Court, by its order on June 27, 2022, gave time to Shinde and Bharat Gogawale and other similarly situated MLAs to file their replies by July, 2022.
But till date no reply has been given. Hence, their right to reply to these 16 petitions is barred, it is argued.