SC Directs Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker to Decide Shiv Sena and NCP Rift Disqualification Petitions

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Published on: October 30, 2023 at 14:36 IST

The Supreme Court issued a directive on Monday, October 30, instructing the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker to resolve the disqualification petitions related to the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) rifts.

The Speaker has been ordered to decide these petitions by December 31, 2023, and January 31, 2024, respectively.

The court, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, considered writ petitions filed by Sunil Prabhu, a member of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray), and Jayant Patil, a member of NCP (Sharad Pawar). These petitions sought a swift decision by the Speaker on disqualification petitions filed against the Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar factions, respectively.

The court expressed its displeasure with the Speaker’s request for an extended timeline, mentioning February 29, 2024, to decide the disqualification petitions associated with the Shiv Sena rift.

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud expressed surprise at this request, as he had previously criticized the Speaker for delaying the proceedings. Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, representing Speaker Rahul Narwekar, assured that the proceedings would conclude by January 31.

The court insisted that the Speaker must make a decision by December 31, stating that the proceedings should not linger until elections are announced. The court referred to a Constitution Bench judgment in the Shiv Sena case delivered in May and the events that occurred in July 2022.

Regarding the NCP rift, the court extended the deadline to January 31. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Ajit Pawar faction, protested the imposition of a deadline, stating that the petitions were filed in July and September of the same year. Senior Advocate Sibal, representing the Sharad Pawar group, clarified that only the petitions filed against nine NCP MLAs in July should be considered at this stage.

In the previous hearing, the court granted the Speaker a “final opportunity” to establish an appropriate schedule for expeditious disqualification petition hearings.

The court had expressed dissatisfaction with the initial time schedule provided by the Speaker and emphasized the need for a reasonable timeframe for the proceedings.

The petition filed by Shiv Sena leader Sunil Prabhu relied on a Supreme Court directive in a constitution bench judgment from May 11, 2023, which mandated that the Speaker must decide disqualification petitions “within a reasonable period.”

Case Title: Sunil Prabhu v. The Speaker, Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly W.P.(C) No. 685/2023 + Jayant Patil Kumar v. The Speaker Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly W.P.(C) No. 1077/2023]

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