The Supreme Court will hear today (Wednesday) the plea of former CM Uddhav Thackeray against the Election Commission of India’s recognition of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction as the real Shiv Sena.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal sought stay of the ECI order, “lest they take over everything, including the bank accounts”. He urged a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud to take up the matter with the other Constitution Bench matters.
The Constitution bench, headed by the CJI, immediately took up the legal issues to decide whether to “tighten up” the Nabam Rebia ruling of 2016 or the Maharashtra case would go to a seven-judge bench. Sibal argued at length why the reference should go to a seven-judge bench.
The two-judge bench, also comprising Justice PS Narasimha, said they don’t want to disrupt the Constitution Bench as there are three judges waiting and added, “we will finish the Constitution Bench and get up a little early and then take it up on Wednesday”.
The CJI said, “We have not read it yet…tomorrow.” The bench decided to take up the matter at 3.30pm.
Thackeray's plea said the EC has failed to appreciate that the petitioner enjoys overwhelming support in the rank and file of the party.
“The petitioner has an overwhelming majority in the Pratinidhi Sabha, which is the apex representative body, representing the wishes of the primary members and other stakeholders of the party. The Pratinidhi Sabha is the apex body recognised under Article VIII of the Party Constitution. The petitioner enjoys the support of 160 members out of approximately 200 odd members in the Pratinidhi Sabha”, it added.
The plea contended that the ECI has failed to discharge its duties as a neutral arbiter of disputes under para 15 of the symbols order and has acted in a manner undermining its constitutional status.
EC awarded party symbol to Shinde camp
On February 17, the Election Commission allotted the Shiv Sena party name and the bow and arrow symbol to the faction led by Eknath Shinde.
“The ECI has disregarded the party Constitution of 2018 (which was admitted even by the respondent No.1 to be the Constitution governing the parties) on the ground that such a constitution is undemocratic and that it was not communicated to the Commission. These observations are totally erroneous as the amendments in the Constitution were categorically communicated to the Commission in 2018 itself and the petitioner will place clear evidence in this regard,” said the plea, seeking interim stay on the ECI order passed on February 17.
Shinde faction takes over party office in Vidhan Bhavan
Overjoyed with EC order, the Shinde group took over the Vidhan Bhavan office on Monday and are likely to takeover the party office in BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation's headquarters as well.
They are reportedly also aiming to take control of the party funds currently held by Thackeray faction. Though either faction is unable to come up with even a ballpark estimate of the corpus fund, some leaders indicate that it could be in the range of Rs 50-150 crore, mobilised over a period.
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