The Supreme Court's Constitution Bench consisting of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha is set to pronounce its verdict on Thursday regarding a set of petitions related to the Uddhav Thackeray-Eknath Shinde split in the Shiv Sena and the subsequent change of government in Maharashtra in 2022.
Background of the Case
In June 2022, 16 Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray, the then Chief Minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance government in Maharashtra.
The rebel MLAs skipped a meeting of the legislature party, and disqualification proceedings were initiated against them by the chief whip of the party nominated by Uddhav Thackeray. In response, the rebel MLAs sent a letter to initiate a motion of no confidence against the deputy Speaker, who rejected the plea.
The rebels then approached the Supreme Court against the disqualification proceedings, where a three-judge bench granted an extension of time to the rebels to respond to the notices.
Meanwhile, the Shinde camp MLAs left Maharashtra and approached the Governor with allegations of grave threat to life and property. The Governor asked Uddhav Thackeray to call a trust vote, but the CM resigned just before the trust vote and moved the Supreme Court questioning the Governor's action.
Petitions before the Constitution Bench
The Uddhav faction has sought the quashing of the July 22 floor test that put Eknath Shinde on the CM's chair. They have also sought a declaration that the rebel MLAs would be "deemed disqualified" from the date of the "anti-party activity," and therefore Shinde could not have been made the CM.
The Shinde faction has raised concerns regarding the power of the assembly Speaker to consider disqualification proceedings, even though the 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment of a five-judge bench held that a Speaker cannot consider such proceedings if no confidence proceedings against him/her are pending before the House.
The verdict of the Supreme Court's Constitution Bench will have far-reaching implications on the political scenario in Maharashtra. It will determine whether Eknath Shinde's appointment as CM was valid and if the rebel MLAs were rightfully disqualified. The decision will also clarify the powers of the assembly Speaker to consider disqualification proceedings.
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