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Thackeray Group Files Plea in Supreme Court Against Speaker's Inaction on Disqualification Petitions

By Jhanak Singh      04 July, 2023 10:20 PM      0 Comments
Thackeray Group Files Plea in Supreme Court Against Speaker's Inaction on Disqualification Petitions

NEW DELHI: Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena on Tuesday filed a plea in the Supreme Court alleging Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s "inaction" in deciding the disqualification proceedings filed against current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and others is "an act of grave constitutional impropriety", allowing them to hold constitutional post without any legal basis.

In a writ petition, the party's chief whip Sunil Prabhu sought a direction to Speaker Rahul Narwekar to decide the disqualification petitions, pending  against Shinde and other MLAs for over one year, in a time bound manner, preferably within two weeks.

The petition filed by advocate Nishanth Patil contended, "The Speaker has clearly demonstrated by his inaction that he is incapable of functioning as a fair and unbiased Tribunal under the Tenth Schedule, as required by law.”

The move assumes significance as it comes within days of similar crisis faced by NCP, another party in erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Thackeray.

In its petition, the Thackeray group contended the Speaker has not convened any meeting with regard to the disqualification petitions, pending since June 23, 2022, despite three representations sent to him following the May 11, 2023 Supreme Constitution bench's order to him decide the matter within a reasonable period.

"However, the Speaker in brazen disregard to his constitutional duties as a neutral arbiter, has sought to delay the adjudications of the disqualification petitions, thereby, permitting the illegal continuance of Shinde as Chief Minister, against whom the disqualification petitions are pending," the plea said.

The petition claimed in the present case, the delinquent MLAs against whom disqualification petitions are pending have committed brazenly unconstitutional acts which per se invited disqualification under Paras 2(1)(a), 2(1)(b), and 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule.

The plea also said that it is now constitutionally imperative for this court to issue appropriate directions to ensure that the provisions of the Tenth Schedule are not reduced to a nullity merely on account of inaction of the Speaker.

A total of 16 disqualification petitions were filed on June 23, 2022, and notices were issued by the Deputy Speaker (performing the functions of Speaker) on June 25, 2022, granting the rebel MLAs time to file their reply by June  27, 2022, the plea said.

The Supreme Court, by its order on June 27, 2022, granted time to Shinde and Bharat Gogawale and other similarly situated MLAs to file their replies by July, 2022.

However, no reply has been filed till date. Thus, the right to file their replies in these 16 petitions stands closed, it contended.

"A long period has elapsed ever since the filing of the disqualification petitions against the delinquent MLAs of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, but they have still escaped the constitutional consequences of committing the sin of defection," it said.

"Despite categorical directions of this Court in its decision in Subhash Desai (May 11, 2023) for the Speaker to decide the pending disqualification petitions, and despite three representations submitted by the petitioner regarding the same, the Speaker has deliberately failed to take any action regarding adjudication of disqualification petitions against the delinquent MLAs of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. It is, thus, respectfully submitted that the circumstances have further precipitated subsequent to the decision of this Court in Subhash Desai, and the Speaker is consciously avoiding his duties as a Tribunal under the Tenth Schedule. Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted that it is now imperative for this Hon’ble Court to direct the Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions filed by the petitioner against delinquent members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly expeditiously, within a time-bound manner," the plea said.



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