Sena battle in Supreme Court today as rebels oppose disqualification notices
The Maharashtra political crisis is set to play out in the Supreme Court, with the group of rebel Shiv Sena legislators, led by dissident MLA Eknath Shinde, securing a hearing by the top court on Monday against disqualification notices issued to them by the deputy speaker of the Maharashtra assembly.
A bench of justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala will take up two petitions, which were filed separately by Shinde and a group of 15 other dissident MLAs led by Bharat Gogawale, on Monday. Sixteen MLAs have been issued summons by the Maharashtra legislature secretariat, seeking written replies by June 27 on disqualification notices filed against them.
In their petitions, the MLAs have pressed for staying the disqualification notices until the resolution for removal of deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal is decided. The petitions argued that when the resolution for his own removal from the office of the deputy speaker is pending, Zirwal lacks authority to initiate disqualification proceedings against other MLAs.
“The disqualification notice is a classic example of the deputy speaker acting hand in glove with the Government in an attempt to hastily disqualify the petitioner (Shinde) along with other supporters,” said 58-year-old Shinde’s plea, contending that not attending a meeting outside the assembly could never become a ground in law to issue disqualification notices.
It added that the legislative assembly disqualification rules mandate a period of at least seven days to submit his comments on the disqualification petition. “This period of seven days is sought to be illegally curtailed by granting the petitioner merely 48 hours to reply to the disqualification petition which is nothing but an eyewash to put a façade of compliance of the rules. The petitioner, therefore, submits that the disqualification notice dated May 26 is completely mala fide and arbitrary and thus violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and has been issued with a pre-meditated mind set to illegally disqualify the petitioner,” added Shinde’s petition.
The plea further challenged Zirwal’s approvals to the appointment of Uddhav Thackeray-loyalist Ajay Chaudhari as the legislature party leader of the Shiv Sena and Sunil Prabhu’s appointment as the chief whip, demanding Chaudhari’s appointment be declared illegal.
“It is common knowledge that the current government in the state of Maharashtra, led by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance has lost the majority in the house as 38 of the members of the Shiv Sena legislature party have withdrawn their support, thus, bringing it below the majority in the house. However, the MVA government continues to misuse the office of the deputy speaker to ensure that they remain in power by whatever means necessary,” contended the petition.
The petitions by 16 MLAs have also urged the court to ensure safety of their families, complaining that the state government unlawfully withdrew the security provided to the dissident leaders and their families in an act of revenge.
“Not only the security of our families and relatives have been compromised by removing the security personnel but also there is an ongoing agenda wherein various leaders of the MVA government are instigating the cadres of their respective parties to take up violence to further intimidate us,” read one of the petitions.