Sena vs Sena: CJI asks if speaker's decision didn’t contradict SC judgement

Top court summons original records on disqualification

Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed reservations about Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar using the legislative majority test to ascertain which faction of the Shiv Sena was the real party.

The top court questioned if the speaker’s decision had contradicted a judgement of the Constitution bench in the Subhash Desai case.

In a significant ruling on January 10, Speaker Narwekar had held that the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was the "real political party" when rival groups emerged on June 21, 2022 as the group had an overwhelming majority of 37 out of 54 MLAs.

The Speaker also refused to disqualify any member belonging to either faction.

Hearing a petition filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction against the speaker's order, a bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra summoned the original records relating to the disqualification row.

"See Paragraph 144. He says ‘which faction is the real political party' is discernible from the legislative majority which existed when the rival factions emerged’. Is it not contrary to the judgment?,” the CJI asked.

The court fixed the petition for hearing on April 8.

The apex court, which had issued notice on the Thackeray group's petition on January 22, asked Shinde and his MLAs to file a response positively on or before April 1.

The bench took note of the submissions of senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Thackeray group, that there was a distinction between legislative majority and organisational majority post defection. 

The top court also took note of the claim of senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the group led by the chief minister, about "forgery" in some relevant documents.

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