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Uddhav Thackeray faction gets relief from SC

2 min read

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: 05 August 2022 at 19:49 IST

On August 4, the Supreme Court announced that it would determine whether to transfer the dispute between Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over the “genuine” Shiv Sena to a Constitution Bench, most likely by August 8.

In the meantime, the Election Commission of India (ECI) was urged to refrain from taking any hasty action in response to Mr. Shinde’s assertion regarding the party and its bow and arrow symbol by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana.

Senior counsel Arvind Datar, speaking on behalf of the ECI, claimed that the anti-defection law’s disqualification procedures had no bearing on the election body’s authority to resolve conflicting claims regarding a party.

However, when the case was scheduled for hearing before the court on August 8, the court requested the ECI to provide a reasonable adjournment. The Supreme Court had previously been petitioned by Thackeray supporters to stop the ECI proceedings.

They had pleaded with the court to order the ECI to suspend operations. They had maintained that the Supreme Court was already investigating every aspect of the full range of legal concerns related to the most recent political developments in Maharashtra, including Mr. Shinde and his followers’ breakaway, Mr. Thackeray’s resignation as Chief Minister, the floor test, etc.

One of the key questions, as the CJI noted, would be whether Mr. Shinde’s faction’s dissension from the original Shiv Sena party amounted to a “split” without the formation of a new party or a merger with another, if the case were to be submitted to a Constitution Bench.

A “split” from the original political party without a subsequent merger with another party or formation of a new faction was no longer a defence from disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.

While agreeing to look into this question in depth, the apex court had, on July 20, asked the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to maintain status quo on the disqualification proceedings against MLAs from both Shinde- and Thackeray factions. The latter group was issued disqualification notices by the Speaker after voting against Mr. Shinde in the floor test.

The court had also directed the Assembly secretariat to keep its records in safe custody.