The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will deliver a major judgement on Thursday which may impinge on the political scene in Maharashtra.
Last year, the state was grappling with a major crisis which culminated in Eknath Shinde taking over as Chief Minister from Uddhav Thackeray following a split in the Shiv Sena. A bunch of petitions will be disposed off on Thursday which will settle the dispute for all times to come.
The bench has to tackle as many as nine issues in the case, amid speculation that the verdict may unseat the Shinde government, a reason why the desperate BJP was trying to woo Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party to cobble together another formulation, a gamble that failed after Sharad Pawar threatened to quit as the NCP President.
Court to examine following issues
Essentially, the court will examine the following thorny issues:
Validity of the decision of former Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to ask former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to face a floor test.
Validity of Governor's decision to ask rebel faction leader Eknath Shinde to take oath as Chief Minister.
Power of the Speaker to act under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and whether he could be incapacitated from acting under the anti-defection law if a notice seeking his removal from the office is pending.
Which faction of a political party can claim to be the real political party in case of a split within the MLAs (legislative wing) of the political party.
Whether the 2016 Supreme Court judgment by a five-judge Constitution Bench in the Nabam Rebia case (relating to the 2016 political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh) which had ruled that a Speaker stands disabled to act under the Tenth Schedule to curb defection, requires to be revisited and referred to a seven-judge bench.
Arguments so far
While concluding the hearing, the court had also raised the question as to whether it could reinstate a Chief Minister who had resigned without facing the floor test. The Bench continued its line of questioning with regard to the powers of the Governor to call a floor test, observing,
"What happens if we come to the conclusion and say that exercise of power by the Governor was not correct? Does Uddhav Thackeray become CM? But he resigned, no? It is like the court being told to reinstate a government which has resigned."
While seeking restoration of status quo ante, the Thackeray faction told the court that anything flowing from an illegal act has to go and cannot survive.
EC recognises Shinde faction as real Shiv Sena
On February 17 this year, the Election Commission had recognised the Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena based on the majority in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Shinde faction has 40 MLAs in the Assembly, as against the Thackeray faction's 15.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)