SC: Uddhav can’t be reinstated, Shinde to stay as CM; but “govt formation illegal”

| Updated: 11 May, 2023 1:09 pm IST
SC rules that Uddhav Thackeray's resignation before facing the floor test meant that his government can not be reinstated

In a major blow to Uddhav Thackeray, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra cannot be reinstated, as the then Chief Minister had voluntarily resigned from his position prior to facing a floor test.

The court, however, acknowledged that Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had made an error in concluding that Uddhav had lost the majority. The bench deemed the governor’s floor test order as incorrect. Additionally, the court referred to the 2016 Nabam Rebia verdict regarding the power of the speaker in the disqualification of MLAs, and this matter will be taken up by a larger bench.

The Supreme Court was addressing the matter of disqualification of 16 MLAs associated with CM Shinde’s Sena. These MLAs, including Shinde himself, received disqualification notices for failing to attend a party meeting called by the then CM Uddhav Thackeray, despite the issuance of a whip. In July, during a trust vote in the state legislative assembly, the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance secured the backing of 164 out of 288 MLAs, resulting in their candidate Shinde becoming the Chief Minister.

A constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has been hearing a series of petitions filed by both factions of Sena since June 2022. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, including CJI Chandrachud and Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and P S Narasimha, concluded the hearings on March 16 and reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas filed by both groups from Sena.

“Supreme Court has called Shiv Sena Shinde group’s Whip as illegal. This means that the present Shinde-Fadnavis government is illegal and formed against the Constitution – Thackeray faction Sena leader Sanjay Raut”

The highlights of the court’s verdict are as follows –

Firstly, it stated that the 2016 Nabam Rebia decision would be considered by a larger Constitution bench.

Secondly, it emphasized that Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation before facing the floor test meant that his government could not be reinstated.

Thirdly, it determined that the authority to decide on the disqualification of the 16 MLAs rested with the Speaker, who should adjudicate on the disqualification proceedings first.

Fourth, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, had not acted in accordance with the law by calling for a floor test.

Fifths, the appointment of Bharat Gogawale as the chief Whip of Shiv Sena by Shinde was deemed illegal, as only the Speaker can recognize the Whip and the elected party leader.

Finally, it clarified that both the Speaker and the Election Commission of India can concurrently address disqualification and symbol disputes.

Reacting to the verdict Thackeray faction-Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “Supreme Court has called Shiv Sena Shinde group’s Whip as illegal. This means that the present Shinde-Fadnavis government is illegal and formed against the Constitution.

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