Sena vs Sena: Thackeray-Shinde row now with 5-judge SC bench
A constitution bench of the Supreme Court will now decide who the "real" Shiv Sena is. Hearing pleas by Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde on Tuesday, it referred the matter to a five-judge constitution bench. The court has framed eight questions on defection, disqualifications, and merger for the larger bench to decide the "victor" in the Thackeray-Shinde battle.
- With Sena rebel Shinde forming the government in Maharashtra, the conflict has now shifted to seizing control of the party, the organization that Thackeray's father, Bal Thackeray, had founded.
- To recall, Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra's CM on June 30 with the support of 40 Sena MLAs and the BJP.
- With 106 MLAs, BJP is the single-largest party in 287-member Maharashtra Assembly.
A three-judge bench of CJI NV Ramana with Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli transferred the matter to a larger bench, observing it raises important constitutional questions. The five-judge bench will hear the matter on Thursday, after which the Election Commission may be allowed to take the final call. It was referred to a constitution bench after the court heard pleas from both factions
The court said the petitions raise important questions related to the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution related to disqualification, power of a governor and speaker, and judicial review. The SC on Tuesday said, "List the matter before the constitution bench the day after tomorrow and the bench will decide about the symbol related to the Election Commission proceeding at the beginning."
The 10th Schedule of the Constitution deals with the prevention of defection of a political party's nominated and elected members. It also contains stringent provisions for members who have defected from a party. Thackeray's plea had also earlier contended that only a merger can save Shinde and 39 other MLAs from disqualification. The court has now referred eight questions to the constitution bench.
Here are some of the questions for the constitution bench: Will the removal of a speaker restrict them from continuing disqualification proceedings? Can Assembly proceedings take place during pending disqualification against its members? What is the scope of the speaker's power to determine the house's whip and leader? Is a governor's action to invite someone to form a new government amenable to judicial review?
Thackeray had moved the SC last month to challenge the EC proceedings on deciding the "real" Shiv Sena. Shinde's faction claims to have the support of 40/50 Sena MLAs and 12/18 Lok Sabha MPs. The Shinde camp earlier asserted their Sena opponents must be removed for disobeying the party whip during last month's trust vote, while Thackeray's camp disputes the legitimacy of this vote.