SC reserves verdict on batch of pleas on Maharashtra political row

New Delhi, Mar 16 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a batch of cross-petitions of Uddhav Thackeray and CM Eknath Shinde factions pertaining to the Maharashtra political crisis.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud reserved its verdict after hearing arguments advanced on behalf of both Uddhav and Eknath factions and the office of the governor.

The bench, comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha concluded the hearing after senior advocates Kapil Sibal, AM Singhvi, Devadatt Kamat and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari made their submissions.

The top court also heard arguments of senior advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Harish Salve, Mahesh Jethmalani and advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh for Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde-led faction.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the office of the governor in the matter.

The five-judge constitution bench reserved its verdict after nine days of hearing which had commenced on February 21.

On February 17, the top court declined to refer a batch of pleas related to the June 2022 Maharashtra political crisis triggered by Shiv Sena’s division to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration of the 2016 Nabam Rebia judgement.

The 2016 judgement dealt with powers of assembly speaker and ruled that he/she cannot proceed with pleas for disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice seeking the speaker’s removal is pending before the house.

On June 29, 2022, at the height of the Maharashtra political crisis, the apex court refused to stay the governor’s direction to the 31-month-old MVA government led by Thackeray to take floor test.

Sensing defeat, Thackeray resigned, catapulting to power a Shiv Sena-BJP dispensation led by Shinde.

On August 23, 2022, a three-judge bench of the top court headed by then chief justice N V Ramana formulated several questions of law and referred to the five-judge bench petitions filed by the two Sena factions which raised several constitutional questions related to defection, merger and disqualification.

In a blow to the Thackeray bloc, the Election Commission last month declared the Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena and allotted it the bow and arrow symbol of the party founded by Balasaheb Thackeray.