Disqualification of Maharashtra MLAs Day #2: CJI Directs Speaker to Halt Disqualification Proceedings

Disqualification Proceedings Against Maharashtra MLAs

On July 11th, 2022, a Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, directed the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly to halt the disqualification proceedings against Shiv Sena members temporarily. They were responding to a request from Senior Advocate Sibal to urgently hear the petitions challenging the disqualification proceedings against the 13 ‘rebel’ MLAs of the Shiv Sena in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. 

The petitions include challenges to the disqualification proceedings filed against the rebel MLAs, the election of BJP’s Rahul Narvekar as Speaker, the recognition of Bharat Gogawale as the party whip, and the floor test for the Shinde government.

The Maharashtra-Shiv Sena political crisis began on June 21st, 2022, when a faction of the Shiv Sena comprising over 11 party members, led by Mr. Eknath Shinde, went missing. They subsequently refused to attend an emergency party meeting called by the party chief and then Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray. 

On June 29th, 2022 Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray resigned, following a Supreme Court Order refusing to stay a floor test called by Mr. Shinde. On June 30th, 2022, Mr. Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister. The Court granted the Eknath Shinde-led faction time until July 12th to file a response to the disqualification notice sent by the Deputy Speaker. On July 3rd, 2022, the newly appointed Speaker, Rahul Narvekar, reinstated Mr. Shinde as the legislature party leader and recognised Mr. Bharat Gogawale as the Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena. On July 4th, 2022, the Shinde faction called for a trust vote and filed disqualification proceedings against the Thackeray faction for refusing to comply with the newly appointed Chief Whip’s directions.

A slew of petitions has since been filed by the Shinde and Thackeray factions before the Supreme Court over the issues surrounding the political crisis brewing in Maharashtra. Today, the Court heard Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s request for urgent mentioning of all the petitions filed in relation to the disqualification proceedings.

Sr. Adv. Kapil Sibal Seeks Urgent Listing of the Petitions

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the Uddhav Thackeray camp, requested the Court to urgently list and hear the petitions relating to the political crisis as the disqualification proceedings against the Thackeray faction were scheduled for the next day, July 12th. Mr. Sibal pointed out that the Court had delivered an Order on June 27th directing the matters to be listed today. However, the matters were not listed for hearing. 

Bench Temporarily Halts Disqualification Proceedings

CJI Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to inform the newly appointed Speaker, Rahul Narwekar, to halt the disqualification proceedings against the Shiv Sena members and to not take any action until the plea was decided by the Supreme Court. 

The Chief Justice stated that the matter required more time to be listed—a Bench to hear the matter was yet to be finalised. In the course of the brief hearing, he considered whether the case required a Constitution Bench.