In the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar has issued notices to the Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) belonging to both factions of the Shiv Sena. The notices require the MLAs to provide their replies on the issue of disqualification. The notices were served to 40 MLAs from the Eknath Shinde faction and 14 MLAs from the Uddhav Thackeray camp. The Speaker’s action comes after the Uddhav Thackeray faction approached the Supreme Court seeking directives for the prompt resolution of pending disqualification petitions against MLAs from both factions.
Plea Highlights Delay in Resolving Disqualification Petitions
Sunil Prabhu, an MLA from the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav faction, filed a plea highlighting the delay in resolving the disqualification petitions. Prabhu referred to a previous Supreme Court ruling on May 11, which urged the Speaker to make a decision on the pending disqualification petitions at the earliest. However, no action has been taken thus far, according to Prabhu. The plea argues that the Speaker’s prompt attention to the issue of disqualification is mandated by the constitutional requirement of fairness.
Constitutional Offense of Defection and Inaction by Speaker
The plea emphasizes that any undue delay by the Speaker in deciding the disqualification petitions perpetuates the constitutional offense of defection committed by the errant members. The plea further states that the MLAs against whom disqualification petitions are pending have blatantly violated the Constitution, which warrants disqualification under Sections 2(1)(a), 2(1)(b), and 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule. Prabhu asserts that the Speaker’s inaction in resolving the disqualification proceedings allows disqualified MLAs to remain in the assembly and hold significant positions in the Maharashtra government, including that of Chief Minister.
Background: Split in Shiv Sena and Disqualification Notices
The political crisis in Maharashtra arose from the division of the Shiv Sena political party into two factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde. After the split in June 2022, Shinde replaced Thackeray as the Chief Minister. Following the split, rebel MLAs from the Shinde faction received disqualification notices for defying the party whip during the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) elections in the state. The Supreme Court was called upon to decide whether these rebel members should be disqualified. The court granted interim relief to Shinde and his rebel group of MLAs and extended the deadline for responding to the disqualification notices. Subsequently, a floor test was conducted resulting in the fall of the Thackeray government, and Shinde took oath as Chief Minister with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
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