Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split


12:16 PM

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Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split Blog Image

Why in news?

  • Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar ruled that the Eknath Shinde faction was the legitimate and real Shiv Sena, having the support of the majority of the party’s MLAs.
  • He was pronouncing his verdict on 34 petitions, filed by the two rival Shiv Sena factions against each other.
    • These petitions were seeking the disqualification of 54 MLAs in total arising out of the party’s 2022 split.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment
  • Background: Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split
  • News Summary: Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split
  • Verdict of speaker on Shiv Sena split
  • Analysing the verdict

2016 Nabam Rebia judgment

  • About
    • In Nabam Rebia case (2016), the SC held that a speaker will be disabled from deciding disqualification petitions under the anti-defection law (10th schedule of the constitution) if a notice for their removal is pending.
    • In other words, this judgement stopped a Speaker facing removal notice from deciding disqualification pleas against members of legislatures under anti-defection law.
  • Criticism
    • This ruling gave a window to defecting legislators to stall or circumvent the Tenth Schedule by seeking removal of the Speaker when disqualification proceedings are anticipated, thus effectively tying the hands of the Speaker.

Background: Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split

  • Split of Shiv Sena
    • The seeds of the conflict were planted when the Uddhav Thackrey-led (united) Shiv Sena joined the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
    • In June 2022, a group of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray.
      • Eknath Shinde and a group of 34 Sena MLAs rebelled against Uddhav.
    • Within hours, Uddhav’s side passed a resolution removing Shinde as leader of the party in the Maharashtra House and appointed a new chief whip.
    • At the same time, the Shinde group also passed a resolution affirming Shinde’s leadership and appointing a different person as the chief whip.
  • Shinde became the CM
    • After being unable to placate Sena rebels, Uddhav resigned as Chief Minister on June 29 and his government fell.
    • Shinde took oath as Maharashtra CM a day later, allied with the BJP.
  • Disqualification pleas before the speaker
    • The very first set of pleas were filed by the Uddhav faction two days after the Sena split.
      • These pleas sought the disqualification of Shinde and other MLAs who allegedly ignored whips issued by the chief whip appointed by the Uddhav faction.
    • On the other hand, the Shinde Sena claimed that its MLAs never received any such whip.
      • As per them, the split was borne out of legitimate grievances held by Sena supporters against the direction that the party took under Uddhav.
      • Hence, it did not violate legislative rules inviting disqualification.
      • It responded in kind, seeking the disqualification of 14 MLAs of the Uddhav faction instead.
  • Matter goes to SC
    • The chief whip, appointed by the Uddhav faction, challenged these petitions in the Supreme Court.
    • He also challenged:
      • the decision of the Maharashtra Governor to call for a trust vote,
      • the swearing-in of Eknath Shinde as the Chief Minister of the Government with BJP backing, and
      • the appointment of Narwekar as new Maharashtra speaker.
    • The Uddhav faction also argued that Nabam Rebia judgement enables defecting MLAs to stall disqualification proceedings by issuing a notice seeking the speaker’s removal.
  • Verdict of SC
    • On disqualification of MLAs
      • The Supreme Court said while cannot interfere in the proceedings.
      • The Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly must decide on the issue of the disqualification of the 16 MLAs.
      • The Speaker must consider the version of the party constitution which was submitted to the ECI with the consent of both factions.
      • This will obviate a situation where both factions attempt to amend the constitution to serve their own ends.
      • The court told the Speaker to not decide based on which faction possesses the majority in the Assembly, and not as per the Election Commission of India’s interim order recognising the Shinde faction as a political party.
    • On restoring Uddhav Thackeray govt
      • The SC held since Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the chief minister and did not face the floor test, his government cannot be reinstated.
      • It said had Thackeray refrained from resigning from his post, the court could have restored his government.
    • On governor’s role in calling floor test
      • The court held that by calling the floor test, the then Maharashtra governor did not act in accordance with the law as he had no objective material to doubt the confidence of the Thackeray government in the House.
      • It said that the power of the Governor to act without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers is of an extraordinary nature, and must be exercised with circumspection within the limits of law.
      • It also said that the Governor is not empowered to enter the political arena and play a role in inter or intra party disputes.
    • Appointment of whip from Shinde group illegal
      • The top court held the appointment of Bharat Gogawale(by Shinde Faction) as the Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena to be illegal.
    • Speaker and EC can adjudicate issues concurrently
      • The court said it could not accept the contention that the EC was barred from deciding on the party symbol dispute until the Speaker decided the disqualification pleas before him.
    • Referral of issues in Nabam Rebia judgement to larger bench
      • The five-judge bench referred certain issues related to its 2016 judgment in the Nabam Rebia case to a larger bench.
      • One of the issues is whether a notice for removal of a Speaker would restrict the powers of the Speaker to issue disqualification notices to MLAs.

News Summary: Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split

Verdict of speaker on Shiv Sena split

  • Shinde faction was the real political party
    • Maharashtra Speaker Narwekar held that the 1999 constitution was the last relevant constitution submitted to ECI.
    • He held that Shinde faction had an overwhelming majority of 37 of 55 MLAs when rival factions emerged.
  • Rejected the disqualification petitions
    • He rejected the disqualification petitions filed by Uddhav’s faction against the Shinde Sena.
    • He also dismissed the disqualification petitions against MLAs of Uddhav faction on procedural grounds.

Analysing the verdict

  • With this verdict, the Shinde Sena gets further legitimacy as a political party, after the Election Commission also recognised it.
  • While no MLA was eventually disqualified, Uddhav’s side is likely to take up the matter in court.

Q1) What is the 10th schedule of the constitution?

The 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also known as the Anti-Defection Act, is a law that prevents members of a political party from switching to another. It was added to the Constitution in 1985 via the 52nd Amendment Act and reinforced in 2002.

Q2) What is floor test? 

A floor test, also known as a trust vote, is a vote in the Legislative Assembly that determines whether the government has the confidence of the House. The floor test ensures that the elected government is accountable to the legislature.

Source: Maharashtra Speaker gives verdict on Shiv Sena split: what was the case before him | Indian Express | The Hindu | Live Law