Shiv Sena rebels will be heard today in SC challenging the choices of the Dy Speaker

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The Maharashtra rebels encamped in Assam, which is governed by the BJP, have taken their fight to the Supreme Court. Eknath Shinde, the leader of the Shiv Sena rebel group, and 15 of his fellow MLAs will both present petitions to the court for consideration on Monday.

The petitions contest the disqualification notifications issued to Shinde and the 15 MLAs, as well as the decision by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal to recognise Ajay Choudhary as the SSLP’s leader in place of Shinde.

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J. B. Pardiwala has been assigned to hear the case.

Harish Salve, a former solicitor general for India, will speak on behalf of Shinde. Both former Congress leader Kapil Sibal and Congress Member Abhishek Manu Singhvi will speak on behalf of the Deputy Speaker and the Shiv Sena, respectively.

A representative for the Shinde camp stated on Sunday that “legal litigation is the only option moving ahead.” Even though the bulk of their party’s MLAs have deserted them, the Shiv Sena is attempting to erect obstacles.

39 of the Sena’s 55 MLAs, including Uday Samant, the minister of higher education and technical education, who travelled to Guwahati on Sunday to join the rebels, are allegedly in the Shinde camp. Currently, the rebels make up 37.5% of the Sena parliamentary party.

Also supporting Shinde are a number of Independent MLAs. Overall, Shinde stated, “We are more than 50.”

The Deputy Speaker’s recognition of Choudhary as the SSLP’s leader “despite the abovementioned request being admittedly made by a small fraction” of the Legislature Party was “illegal and unconstitutional,” according to Shinde’s suit.

According to Shinde, the notice sent to him on Saturday regarding a request to also disqualify him from the Assembly “is outrageously illegal, unconstitutional and in full disrespect” of the Supreme Court’s prior decisions on this matter.

“It is well known that the Shiv Sena Legislature Party’s 38 members withdrew their support, reducing the support of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, the present administration in the State of Maharashtra, to below the majority in the house. However, the MVA government continues to abuse the position of Deputy Speaker in order to employ any means necessary to maintain its hold on power, according to the appeal.

In an effort to quickly disqualify him “together with other supporters,” the Deputy Speaker “acted hand in glove with the Government,” as Shinde has contended, and “the Disqualification Rules and the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules are intended to be entirely disregarded.”

He claims that he was given “merely 48 hours” to respond to the notice, although according to the Rules, he is really entitled to at least seven days, which the Speaker may extend further. According to the appeal, the notification “has been issued with a premeditated mindset to illegally disqualify” him and is “totally mala fide and arbitrary and so violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.”

The argument made by Advocate on Record Abhinav Sharma states that following Nana Patole’s resignation from the Maharashtra Assembly in February 2021, “there is no authority who can adjudicate upon the disqualification petition under which the Impugned Notice has been issued.”

The court has been informed by Shinde that a resolution to remove the Deputy Speaker is under consideration. Shinde has urged the court to order that no further action regarding the disqualification petition be made until the resolution to remove the Deputy Speaker has been resolved.

The threat to the rebel MLAs and their families is also mentioned in the appeal. “…Not only has the removal of security officers jeopardised the safety of our families and relatives, but there is also a continuing plan by which different MVA government leaders are encouraging the cadres of their separate parties to engage in violence. Sanjay Raut, a Sena MP, allegedly threatened the petitioners and other members by saying he would make it difficult for the MLAs who have departed to return to Maharashtra.

The second petition, submitted by Bharat Gogavale and 14 other MLAs, claims that the SC “clearly held” in a 2016 decision that the Speaker or Deputy Speaker cannot disqualify a member while a resolution for their own removal is pending. The rebels have chosen Bharat Gogavale to replace Sunil Prabhu as Chief Whip of the Sena legislative party.

According to the appeal, the rebel MLAs have not freely renounced their Shiv Sena membership, and their acts do not comply with the requirements of Paragraph 2 of the Tenth Schedule.

Leaders of the Sena, NCP, and Congress decided to team up to fight the legal battle to preserve their coalition government during a meeting of the MVA’s constituent parties called by NCP president Sharad Pawar on Sunday.

Shinde, Samant, Dadaji Bhuse, Gulabrao Patil, and Sandipan Bhumre are five of the Sena’s nine cabinet members that have rebelled against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Along with former Cabinet Minister Sanjay Rathod, the rebels include two ministers of state: Abdul Sattar and Shambhuraje Desai.

Aaditya Thackeray, Subhash Desai, and Anil Parab are the Chief Minister’s remaining cabinet members.

According to Shiv Sena counsel Devdutt Kamat, members outside the House are also subject to the disqualification criteria. He highlighted Sharad Yadav of the JD(U), who had provoked action because he had gone to a Lalu Prasad rally for the RJD, as an example.

“The Shiv Sena held a number of meetings at various locations, but the rebels didn’t show up. They are meeting with BJP leaders when they are in BJP-controlled states. An attempt to overthrow the government constitutes a rebel act of discipline violation, according to Kamat.

Regarding the anti-defection statute, he added, “The two-thirds need (to avoid penalty) only applies if the rebel group merges with another party. It will be equivalent to them giving up their membership (in the House) voluntarily since there is no merger.