Maharashtra Political Crisis Order Pronouncement: No Immediate Reference to 7-Judge BenchDisqualification Proceedings Against Maharashtra MLAs
Judges: D.Y. Chandrachud CJI, M.R. Shah J, Krishna Murari J, Hima Kohli J, P.S. Narasimha J
Today, the 5-Judge Constitution Bench decided not to immediately refer the case to a larger 7-Judge Constitution Bench.
Before making substantial arguments, the Thackaray faction submitted that the Constitution Bench Judgement in Nabam Rebia v Deputy Speaker (2016) required reconsideration by a 7-Judge Bench. The Judgement bars the Speaker from considering disqualification petitions in the House while they are facing removal. The Thackaray faction claimed that this allows members of the House to ‘paralyse’ and curb the Speakers’ powers.
The Eknath Shinde faction opposed the reference and argued that the Nabam Rebia Judgement did not apply to the situation in Maharashtra. Despite being signed by the MLAs from the Shinde faction, the Deputy Speaker rejected the notice for his own removal on June 24th, 2022 as it was anonymously delivered. Further, the Deputy Speaker was not barred from considering the petitions for disqualification of the rebel MLAs in the Shinde faction. The SC merely gave the rebel MLAs more time to reply to the Speakers notice for their disqualification, in accordance with the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules.
Constitution Bench: Will Consider Reference After Hearing Substantial Arguments
Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, speaking on behalf of the Bench, stated that they would first hear substantial arguments on the Shiv Sena rift in Maharashtra. A decision on reference cannot be made without properly considering how Nabam Rebia interacts with the facts of the case.
The Bench will begin hearing substantial arguments on February 21st, 2023. They will simultaneously consider if the case should be referred to a 7-Judge Bench to re-consider Nabam Rebia.