Maharashtra: Ajit Pawar Faction Moves Bombay HC Challenging Speaker's Decision Not To Disqualify Sharad Pawar Faction's MLAs

Maharashtra: Ajit Pawar Faction Moves Bombay HC Challenging Speaker's Decision Not To Disqualify Sharad Pawar Faction's MLAs

The petition questions the “legality, propriety and correctness” of Speaker Rahul Narvekar’s order dismissing their disqualification plea against the MLAs of the Sharad Pawar faction

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 08:40 PM IST
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Ajit Pawar | Twitter

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) faction led by state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has approached the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker refusing to disqualify 10 MLAs belonging to Sharad Pawar faction. 

The petition was filed by Anil Patil, chief whip of the Ajit Pawar faction, through his advocate Shrirang Varma. The petition questions the “legality, propriety and correctness” of Speaker Rahul Narvekar’s order dismissing their disqualification plea against the MLAs of the Sharad Pawar faction. 

On February 16, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar declared that the rival faction headed by Ajit Pawar is ‘the real political party’. However, the Speaker refused to disqualify MLAs from rival factions. The Speaker delivered his verdict on two petitions filed by both factions nearly six months after the party split into two groups.

In July 2023, the NCP witnessed a vertical split after Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs joined the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government. The NCP was founded by Sharad Pawar in 1999.

Ajit Pawar faction raises questions over Speaker's decisions

Terming the Speaker’s order as bad in law, the Ajit Pawar faction has sought quashing of the order to the extent of disqualification issue. The plea before HC has also sought that the 10 MLAs from the rival faction be disqualified. 

On Tuesday, Patil's pleas were mentioned before a division bench headed by Justice Girish Kulkarni. The bench has kept the matter for hearing on Wednesday. 

Varma said that the Speaker wrongly concluded that the split in the party was intraparty dissent. Once the Speaker has ruled that the NCP led by Ajit Pawar is the "real political party" then the disqualification petitions should have been allowed too, Varma added. 

It further contends that the opposite faction MLAs attract disqualification under Section 2(1)(A) of the Tenth Schedule.

On January 17, the HC had issued notices to 14 MLAs of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) on a plea by chief minister Eknath Shinde - led Shiv Sena’s whip Bharat Gogawale, seeking their disqualification. The Speaker Narwekar, on January 10, had ruled that Shinde-led faction was the “real political party” but refused to disqualify rival faction’s MLAs. 

Gogawale’s petition claims that the Speaker’s decision was “arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal” and he failed to consider that MLAs from the Sena (UBT) faction had voluntarily given up membership of the party. Therefore, the Speaker's order of not disqualifying Sena (UBT) MLAs was “bad in law” and should be quashed and set aside.

The Election Commission has also recently ruled in favour of the Ajit Pawar Faction and allowed them to use the ‘clock’ symbol of NCP. Sharad Pawar’s plea challenging the ECI’s order is pending before the Supreme Court. 

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