Maharashtra speaker in SC line of fire for delay on Shiv Sena petitions
The court remarked that the speaker could not continue to drag his feet and directed that he shall hear the concerned matter no later than a period of one week
The Supreme Court on Monday criticised Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar on a plea filed by the Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray faction against the delay in deciding the disqualification petitions filed against chief minister Eknath Shinde and his camp.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra came down heavily on the issue of delays in ruling on the disqualification of the lawmakers who quit the Thackeray faction and aligned with the Shinde group.
The CJI said the speaker has to abide by the dignity of the Supreme Court, and that four months have passed since the court's judgement, "... and we are only at the stage of notice," he added.
The court asked what action had been taken following its 11 May judgement, wherein the speaker was told to rule on the petitions within a "reasonable time".
The court remarked that the speaker could not continue to drag his feet and directed that he shall hear the concerned matter no later than a period of one week.
On 14 July, the apex court had issued notice and called for responses from of Narwekar and Shinde within a period of two weeks.
The plea filed by Shiv Sena-UBT leader Sunil Prabhu has alleged that the speaker is putting off a decision on the disqualification pleas to permit "the illegal continuance of Eknath Shinde as chief minister, against whom the disqualification petitions are pending".
The Thackeray faction had moved the apex court on 4 July against the delay by the speaker in deciding on the petitions pending against Shinde and his camp. On 11 May, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had directed that the Maharashtra speaker "must decide disqualification petitions in a reasonable time" against 16 Shiv Sena MLAs including Shinde, who were accused of anti-party activities.
In its judgement, the top court had refused to reinstate Uddhav Thackery as chief minister as he had tendered his resignation voluntarily before facing a floor test in the assembly. The five judges had unanimously held that then governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was not justified in calling upon Thackeray to prove his majority, but said he was justified in inviting Shinde to form the government once the post of chief minister fell vacant.
Declaring the decision taken by the speaker to recognise Bharat Gogawale (of the Shinde faction) as Shiv Sena chief whip in place of Prabhu as "contrary to law", the Constitution bench had held that the political party, not the legislative party, appoints the whip and the leader of the party in the house.