Shinde moves SC seeking stay on disqualification notice

Shinde and a sizable number of MLAs rebelled against the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 21 and are currently in Guwahati in Assam.
Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA and minister Eknath Shinde
Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA and minister Eknath ShindeIANS

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA and minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday moved the Supreme Court against the disqualification notice issued by the deputy speaker to him and 15 other rebel legislators, calling the action ''illegal and unconstitutional'' and seeking a stay on it.

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala is likely to hear Shinde's plea on Monday seeking directions to the deputy speaker to not take any action in the disqualification petition against him.

Shinde and a sizable number of MLAs rebelled against the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 21 and are currently in Guwahati in Assam.

Their main demand is that the Sena withdraws from the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, which also comprises the Congress and NCP.

Shinde in his plea said that he is constrained to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution challenging the ''arbitrary and illegal'' exercise of provisions of Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of Defection) Rules, 1986 by the deputy speaker which is completely violative of Article 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

''The illegal and unconstitutional action of the Deputy Speaker insofar as recognising Ajay Choudhury as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party (SSLP) despite the said request being admittedly made by a minority faction of the SSLP. Further, the said Respondent No. 1 (Deputy Speaker), even after belonging to the minority faction of the SSLP, has also filed a Petition under Rule 6 of MLA Defection Rules seeking disqualification of the Petitioner under Para-2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India for which the Petitioner received a notice dated June 2, 2022,'' the plea said.

The petition contended that the seat of Speaker is vacant since Nana Patole resigned from office in February 2021 and there is no authority who can adjudicate upon the disqualification petition under which the impugned notice has been issued to the petitioner.

Shinde, who is MLA from Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency of Thane, has challenged the ex-facie illegal disqualification proceedings initiated against him at the instance of Shiv Sena's chief whip, Sunil Prabhu, and said he had no authority to issue any whip having been removed as the Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party and the consequent issuance of summons issued by the deputy speaker without verifying the matter.

The plea filed through advocate Abhinay Sharma said the deputy speaker cannot disqualify any member under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution during the pendency of his own removal resolution and termed his action in recognising Ajay Choudhary and Sunil Prabhu as Leader and Chief Whip of SSLP as illegal.

The petition has sought directions to the deputy speaker to not take any action in the Disqualification Petition under Rule 6 of MLA Defection Rules pending before Speaker of Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly and not take any action on the same until the resolution for removal of deputy speaker is decided.

''Issue a writ of prohibition/mandamus or any other appropriate writ, direction or order, interim in nature stay the effect and operation of the notice dated June 25, 2022, issued to the Petitioner by the Respondent No. 1.

''Issue a writ of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, order or direction hold and declare that the Letter/order dated June 21, 2022, passed by the Respondent No. 1 accepting the appointment of Respondent No. 4 as Leader of Shiv Sena Legislature Party is illegal and unconstitutional and be pleased to quash and set aside the same,'' the plea said.

The Maharashtra legislature secretariat on Saturday had issued ''summons'' to 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, seeking written replies by the evening of June 27 to the complaints seeking their disqualification.

Signed by Rajendra Bhagwat, principal secretary of the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan, the summons were sent to all 16 MLAs named by the Shiv Sena's chief whip, Sunil Prabhu, in a letter.

Prabhu had earlier asked the rebel MLAs of the Shinde faction, who are camping in Guwahati, to attend a party meeting here on Wednesday but none of them turned up.

Subsequently, the Sena submitted two letters to the legislature secretariat, seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs including Shinde.

The summons issued by Bhagwat on Saturday said that Prabhu had submitted a letter to deputy speaker of the Assembly Narhari Zirwal seeking their disqualification under the Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of Defection) Rules, 1986. ''In your defence of the summons, you need to submit your written response before 5.30 pm on June 27 (Monday) supported by all the necessary documents. If the written response to the summons is not submitted in a given period, it would be considered as you have no say over it. The office will initiate necessary action based on the complaint filed by Prabhu against you,'' the letter said.

The Shinde group, which claims to have the support of more than two-thirds of Sena MLAs, has announced that Prabhu has been replaced as party whip by Bharat Gogawale.

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