NEW DELHI, Oct 30: The Supreme Court on Monday directed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to decide on or before December 31 the cross-petitions filed by the Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions of Shiv Sena seeking disqualification of each other’s MLA.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that the sanctity of the 10th Schedule, which is aimed at preventing political defections of the Constitution of India, should be maintained.
The bench also asked the assembly speaker to decide the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) petition seeking disqualification of nine MLAs of the Ajit Pawar group by January 31, 2024.
“We are concerned that the sanctity of the Tenth Schedule must be maintained. Otherwise, we are throwing these provisions to the wind,” the bench said, adding that “The procedural wranglings should not be permitted to delay the petitions. We direct that proceedings shall be concluded and directions passed by December 31, 2023”.
The direction from the top court came on a plea filed by Sunil Prabhu – sitting MLA of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and a member of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena – seeking a direction to the Assembly Speaker to expeditiously decide disqualification petitions pending against rebel Shiv Sena legislators, contending that the Assembly Speaker had given them a year-long schedule for deciding the disqualification petitions.
While the pleas filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena before the Assembly Speaker have sought disqualification of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and others who broke away from the Shiv Sena, the Eknath Shinde faction has also sought disqualification of MLAs belonging to the Uddhav Thackeray faction.
The Supreme Court had earlier pulled up the Assembly Speaker for delay in adjudication of the matter despite its direction in its May 11 order to decide the pleas seeking disqualification within a reasonable period, saying that the Assembly Speaker cannot defeat the orders of the Supreme Court. It had also directed the Assembly Speaker to spell out the timeline for adjudication of the petitions pending before it.