Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) party MLA Sunil Prabhu on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker to take an expeditious decision on the disqualification petitions pending against rebel Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde.
“The Speaker in brazen disregard to his constitutional duties as a neutral arbiter has sought to delay the adjudications of the disqualification petitions, thereby, permitting the illegal continuance of Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister, against whom the disqualification petitions are pending for almost a year,” the plea stated.
Speaker’s conduct in choosing to deliberately delay the adjudication of the disqualification petitions filed by the Uddhav Thackeray group against the delinquent members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, it said.
The disqualification pleas have been pending for over a year. The plea sought direction for the Speaker to decide disqualification petitions within a time-bound manner.
Sunil Prabhu in his plea contended that in the present case, the delinquent MLAs against whom disqualification petitions are pending have committed “brazenly unconstitutional acts” which per se invite disqualification under Paras 2(1)(a), 2(1)(b), and 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule.
The Speaker’s inaction in deciding the disqualification proceedings is an “act of grave constitutional impropriety” as his inaction is allowing MLAs who are liable to be disqualified to continue in the assembly and to hold responsible positions in the government of Maharashtra including that of the Chief Minister, the plea added.
“It is settled law that the Speaker while performing its functions under Para 6 of the Tenth Schedule, acts as a judicial tribunal, and is required to act in a fair and unbiased manner. The constitutional requirement of fairness enjoins upon the Speaker the obligation to decide the question of disqualification in an expeditious manner. Any unreasonable delay on the part of the Speaker in deciding the petitions for disqualification contributes to and perpetuates the constitutional sin of defection committed by the delinquent members,” the petition stated.
Prabhu said though Supreme Court in its May 11 judgment asked the Speaker to decide pending disqualification petitions within a reasonable period, Speaker has taken no steps in that regard. He said he has already submitted three representations on this score to Speaker, but to no avail.
The disqualification petitions against the rebel MLAs were filed by Sunil Prabhu, the Shiv Sena party Whip appointed by Uddhav Thackeray, on 23 June 2022, after the MLAs revolted against Thackeray. The notices of disqualification were issued by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal in the absence of the Speaker.
On May 11 five-judge Constitution bench had held that it cannot disqualify the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government and reinstate Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minster because the latter had chosen to resign instead of facing a test of strength in the Assembly.
In August last year, the top court’s three-judge bench had referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the issues involved in the petition filed by rival groups of Shiv Sena in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis.
On June 29, 2022, the top court gave a go-ahead to the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on June 30. It had refused to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority support on the floor of the House on June 30.
After the apex court’s order, Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation as the Chief Minister and Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as the Chief Minister. (ANI)