New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its order on an appeal by former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray challenging a single judge's decision dismissing his plea against an Election Commission's (EC) interim order freezing the Shiv Sena name and election symbol.
Thackeray claimed the single judge's November 15 order, by which it had also directed the EC to expedite the proceedings pending before it, is "erroneous" and liable to be set aside.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, after hearing the arguments of counsel for both the parties, said, "We will pass appropriate orders." Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Thackeray, submitted that the EC did not hear him while passing the order for freezing Shiv Sena's name and election symbol.
"Never in the history of the commission, freezing order has been passed without hearing the party," he argued.
The senior counsel noted the single judge said in the order that there are two rival factions but "it is my case that there are no two rival factions and (Eknath) Shinde (current Maharashtra CM and rival group leader) himself accepts the fact that Uddhav Thackeray is the president of Shiv Sena".
The single judge bench had said in its order there was "no procedural infraction" in the EC's order freezing the Shiv Sena's name and election symbol following a "split" in the party.
It had said the commission passed the freezing order in view of the urgency in respect of allotment of the symbol on account of announcement of bypolls and the petitioner, who repeatedly took time to furnish necessary documents, now cannot allege violation of principles of natural justice and criticise the poll panel.
"There is a split between members of the 'Shiv Sena', a recognised political party in the state of Maharashtra. One group or faction is led by Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde and the other by Uddhav Thackeray. Both claim to be the president of the original Shiv Sena party, and stake claim to its poll symbol of 'bow and arrow'," the single judge had noted in the order.
Before the division bench, Shinde was represented by senior advocates Mahesh Jethmalani and Rajiv Nayar.
Thackeray, in his appeal, claimed there was no dispute on the leadership of the party and that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde himself admitted that Thackeray is and continues to be the rightfully elected president of the Shiv Sena political party.
Therefore, it cannot be said that there are two rival factions.
On October 8, the EC had passed an interim order barring the two Shiv Sena factions from using the party's name and its election symbol in the Andheri East assembly bypoll.
The commission's order was passed on a "dispute petition" filed by Shinde.
Earlier this year, Shinde had raised a banner of revolt against Thackeray, accusing him of entering into an "unnatural alliance" with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Over 40 of the Shiv Sena's 55 MLAs had supported Shinde, forcing Thackeray's resignation as the chief minister.
Thackeray had assailed the EC's interim order on several grounds, including lack of procedural fairness.
Thackeray's petition accused the EC of showing undue haste in passing the order without affording an opportunity to him to be heard despite having filed an application requesting for an oral hearing.
He had alleged the freezing order was actuated by malice in law and was erroneous.
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