The Maharashtra political crisis has reached the courts with rebel MLA Eknath Shinde and his camp challenging the Shiv Sena's move to disqualify him and 15 other MLAs with two petitions in the Supreme Court.
The petitions also challenge the decision by deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal to recognise Ajay Choudhary as leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party (SSLP) in place of Shinde.
The first petition by Shinde, filed through Advocate on Record Abhinav Sharma, challenges the rejection of no confidence motion moved against deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal, who belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party. The deputy speaker issued the disqualification notices as the post of Speaker in the Maharashtra legislative assembly is vacant. The matter will be heard by a vacation bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala today.
The petition has also challenged the appointment of Ajay Choudhari as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader by the Thackeray camp calling the move illegal.
Shinde, who claims to have the support of over two-third MLAs of Shiv Sena, has prayed that the proceedings on the disqualification notices should be stopped until the issue relating to the removal of deputy speaker is decided. The Shiv Sena has filed appeals for disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs earlier this week with the deputy speaker.
Senior advocate Harish Salve is expected to represent Shinde and his group of rebel MLAs in the court, according to the sources. Former Congress leader Kapil Sibal will appear for the Deputy Speaker, and Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the Shiv Sena, they said.
Here is what Shinde has requested in the petition :
Deputy speaker cannot disqualify any member under Schedule X of the Constitution during the pendency of a resolution seeking his removal.
Narhari Zirwal is officiating as the deputy speaker without resigning from the NCP and is actively participating in the activities of NCP. The ideology of Shiv Sena is opposed to NCP. Hence Zirwal is politically biased and cannot be expected to take an impartial and fair decision.
The disqualification notices are not maintainable as mere absence from party meetings cannot be a ground for disqualification. The whip issued by the party is applicable only to proceedings within the House.
The second petition is filed by Bharat Gogavale, whom the rebels have chosen Chief Whip of the Sena legislature party replacing Sunil Prabhu, and 14 other MLAs. The petition says that the SC had in a 2016 decision “clearly held” that speaker or deputy speaker cannot disqualify a member while a resolution for their own removal is pending, according to a report in the Indian Express.(with inputs from LiveLaw.in)