Amid the political turmoil in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Monday granted interim relief to rebel Shiv Seva leader Eknath Shinde and other MLAs to file their reply to disqualification notices by the Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly by July 12, 5.30 pm. Earlier, the Deputy Speaker had granted them time to file a reply by today, 5.30 pm.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, in its order, said, “As an interim measure, the time granted by the Deputy Speaker to the petitioners or other similarly placed MLAs to submit their submissions today by 5.30 pm stands extended till July 12. The petitioners or other MLAs are at liberty to submit their reply without prejudice to their rights in the writ petition.”
The top court has now posted the matter for hearing on July 11. The apex court was hearing the petitions filed by the Shinde group challenging the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to 16 rebel MLAs as well as the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader.
The bench also issued notices to the Deputy Speaker, Secretary of Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly, the Centre, Ajay Chaudhary, and Sunil Prabhu and asked them to file a reply within five days.
On the request to provide security to 39 MLAs alleging threats to them, the Supreme Court recorded the statement of the standing counsel of the Maharashtra government, Rahul Chitnis, that adequate steps have already been taken and the state government will further ensure that no harm is caused to the life, liberty, and property of the MLAs.
During the hearing, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul appearing for Eknath Shinde and others told the Supreme Court that the Deputy Speaker cannot proceed with the disqualification proceedings when the resolution seeking his removal is pending.
The Eknath Shine camp has also challenged the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader by the Thackeray camp. They have also asked the court to direct the Maharashtra government to provide security to their families.
Shinde, in his plea, stated that the Deputy Speaker had lost his position as the MVA.government has been reduced to a minority. In such a situation, he has no authority to invoke provisions of the Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986, and send notices to him and 15 other MAs, which form part of the breakaway group of 38 Sena legislators.
Shinde, in his petition, said, “It is common knowledge that the current government in Maharashtra, led by the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, has lost the majority in the House as 38 of the members of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party have withdrawn their support, thus bringing it below the majority in the House. However, the MVA government continues to misuse the deputy speaker’s office to ensure that they remain in power by whatever means.