SC extends Shinde camp's deadline to respond to disqualification notices
Amid the political crisis in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court has given rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and 15 other MLAs time till July 11 to respond to their disqualification notices instead of Monday evening. The MLAs challenged these notices issued by the Deputy Speaker before the apex court. Meanwhile, the SC also asked them why they didn't move the Bombay High Court instead.
- On Saturday, Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal issued disqualification notices to Shinde and 15 other rebel Sena MLAs supporting him and currently staying in Guwahati, ANI reported.
- Shinde also claimed the Maharashtra government removed protection from the homes of the 16 dissident lawmakers, including himself.
- In a letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, Shinde termed the action "political vengeance."
Asked why the rebel MLAs didn't move the high court, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, who is appearing for Shinde and the dissident MLAs, replied the SC had, in the past, passed the orders in many cases related to floor tests and disqualifications. Kaul added that the Deputy Speaker cannot proceed with the disqualification proceedings when the resolution seeking his removal is pending.
Kaul also claimed the MLAs are being allegedly threatened and were told 40 bodies would return from Guwahati, where the rebels are camped at. He also said, "A minority of the legislative party is subverting the state machinery, attacking our houses. They're saying that our dead bodies will return from Assam. The atmosphere is not conducive for us to exercise our rights in Mumbai."
A vacation bench of Justice Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala was hearing two petitions filed separately by Shinde and rebel MLAs led by Bharat Gogawali against Zirwal. The rebel leaders urged the SC to prohibit Zirwal from taking any action under the anti-defection law and issue a direction against any action until the resolution for the removal of the Deputy Speaker is decided.
The Shinde camp claims that the disqualification notice against them was illegal as that can't happen for skipping a party meeting. However, anti-party activities have led to the disqualification of MLAs in other states as well. Also, the rebels have to merge with some other party to be safe from disqualification, otherwise the Speaker—and in this case, the Deputy Speaker—can take any action.
The political crisis in Maharashtra began following a rebellion by Shinde. Later, he also claimed he had the support of 40 MLAs against the present government. He was displeased with the Sena joining hands with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. He claimed the Sena MLAs were sidelined, while alliance partners benefited the most.
The Shinde camp is apparently seeking an alliance with their erstwhile partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which they see as Sena's "natural ally." "We are traditionally the rivals of the NCP and Congress, they are our primary challengers in constituencies. We requested CM Uddhav Thackeray that natural alliance should be done," rebel MLA Chimanrao Patil said in a video tweeted by Shinde.
According to NDTV, however, at least 20 MLAs camping with rebel leader Shinde are in contact with Maharashtra CM Thackeray, since some of the rebels are opposed to a merger with the BJP. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena intends to take action against Shinde and other dissident ministers. Cabinet ministers Shinde, Gulabrao Patil, and Dada Bhuse, according to reports, are set to lose their portfolios.