A petition from the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray group asking the Election Commission to postpone making a decision regarding the Eknath Shinde faction’s claim to be the “real Shiv Sena” was dismissed by a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
After a daylong hearing that was also telecast live in a historic first for India, the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha ruled that there would be no stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission of India to decide on the claim by the Eknath Shinde faction.
“We direct that there shall be no stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission. The I.As (Intervention Applications) seeking stay stands accordingly dismissed,” the supreme court said in its ruling.
After the Bal Thackeray-founded Shiv Sena was split by a coup, Uddhav Thackeray’s government in Maharashtra fell in June. Eknath Shinde, then partnered with the BJP to form a new administration.
On June 30, Mr. Shinde took office as chief minister, with Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP serving as his deputy.
Team Thackeray petitioned the Supreme Court to remove the dissident MLAs from office. Mr. Shinde’s government may run into problems if the MLAs are disqualified.
According to Mr. Thackeray, the Election Commission cannot determine who the “real Shiv Sena” is until the court rules on the rebels’ disqualification. According to team Thackeray, if the MLAs are disqualified, they cannot be used as evidence in the symbol dispute procedures. However, the Supreme Court ruled that they are separate proceedings.
Mr. Shinde is backed by 40 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs. Also, 12 out of 18 MPs support the Chief Minister.
The Election Commission often evaluates how many elected MLAs, MPs, and office holders support each faction to determine which is the legal one.
On August 23, the Supreme Court referred to five-judge bench petitions submitted by the Uddhav Thackeray and Shinde-led factions, which raised a number of constitutional issues regarding defection, merger, and disqualification.
The petitions raise crucial constitutional questions regarding the exclusion of MLAs who defect, the authority of the Speaker and the Governor, and judicial review, according to the court.
The Thackeray group had informed the court that the only way for MLAs who supported Eknath Shinde to escape being disqualified under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution was to join another political party. The anti-defection law, according to Team Shinde, cannot serve as a protection for a leader who has lost the support of his own party.