30 Oct 2023 7:43 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday (October 30) directed the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions filed in relation to Shiv Sena rift and the Nationalist Congress Party rift by December 31, 2023 and January 31, 2024 respectively.The bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud was hearing the writ petitions filed by Sunil Prabhu, member of Shiv...
The Supreme Court on Monday (October 30) directed the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions filed in relation to Shiv Sena rift and the Nationalist Congress Party rift by December 31, 2023 and January 31, 2024 respectively.
The bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud was hearing the writ petitions filed by Sunil Prabhu, member of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) and Jayant Patil, member of NCP (Sharad Pawar) seeking expeditious decision by the Speaker on the disqualification petitions filed respectively against the Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar factions.
The bench expressed displeasure at the stand of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker that he required time till February 29, 2024 to decide the disqualification petitions filed by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions in relation to the rift in the Shiv Sena party.
"Now he is saying he'll hear by 29 Feb 2024?", Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who had earlier pulled up the Speaker for delaying the hearing in the matter, expressed surprise. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for Speaker Rahul Narwekar, said that the proceedings will be completed by January 31.
"He has to decide...finish it by 31 December...", CJI Chandrachud stated.
"The proceedings cannot wrangle on until the elections are announced....", CJI said reiterating the deadline of December 31. CJI pointed out that the Constitution Bench judgment in the Shiv Sena case was delivered in May this year and the incidents took place in July 2022.
Solicitor General, citing the impending Diwali vacations and the winter session of the assembly, said that it will be unrealistic to expect a decision before 31st January.
However, the bench was firm in its view that the proceedings should be completed before December 31 and passed an order in that regard. As regards the NCP rift, the Court granted time till January 31. When Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ajit Pawar faction, protested against giving a deadline for NCP matter by saying that the petitions were filed only in July and September this year, Sibal (representing Sharad Pawar group) said that only the petitions filed against nine NCP MLAs in July this year be considered at this stage.
"We will record Mr Sibal's statement that for Group B(NCP) at this stage we are only concerned of petitions filed in July...As far as the group B petitions are concerned, disqualification issue is confined only to issues filed in July," CJI said.
Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Devadatt Kamat appeared for the Uddhav Thackeray group and Sharad Pawar group. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the Ajit Pawar group and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul represented the Eknath Shinde group.
In the last hearing, the court had granted a "final opportunity" to the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for laying down an appropriate schedule for expeditious hearing of the disqualification petitions. Earlier, the court had criticised the Speaker for laying down a long schedule for the Shiv Sena cases and had asked the Speaker to give an appropriate time-estimate for hearing the petitions. The bench had expressed its dissatisfaction with the time schedule which had been indicated before the court by the Speaker since adhering to that time schedule, as per the court, would not result in any immediate or foreseeable conclusion in the disqualification proceedings.
The petition filed by Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sunil Prabhu relied on the Supreme Court's direction in the constitution bench judgement of May 11, 2023 that the speaker must decide the 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
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 943
Click here to read the order