National Affairs

Governor Was Wrong. But Shinde Govt To Continue: SC On Maharashtra Political Crisis

On Thursday, the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the political upheaval in Maharashtra about a year ago. 

The biggest thing about the decision is that Eknath Shinde will continue to be the Chief Minister. But his victory was due to the resignation of Uddhav Thackeray.

The court said that ‘Uddhav Thackeray did not face the floor test at all. Resigned himself. In such a situation, the court cannot cancel the resignation. We cannot restore the old government. 

The Supreme Court also said that it was a wrong decision by the Maharashtra governor to ask the Uddhav government for a floor test. The governor did not have solid grounds to doubt the majority.

After the verdict, former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said- ‘How would I have run the government with traitors. There is no morality in the Shinde government, otherwise he would have resigned today’ 

On this, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Uddhav resigned due to fear of defeat, not morality. Went with Congress and NCP to become Chief Minister.

The matter
In June-2022, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi coalition government fell after the rebellion of the Eknath Shinde faction. 

On June 30, Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister. In this case, 6 petitions were filed on behalf of both the factions.

Stop Deputy Speaker Narhari Jirwal from initiating proceedings against Eknath Shinde under the anti-defection law.

On behalf of the Uddhav faction, Ajay Chaudhary was challenged to be made the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party.

The MLAs of the Shinde group should be given security from the central government.

The Deputy Speaker should be restrained from taking action against the 16 MLAs of the Shinde faction under the Defection Law.

The summons sent to 16 MLAs under the anti-defection law should be rejected.

The Chief Whip appointed by the Shinde faction should be prevented from taking disqualification proceedings against the MLAs of the Uddhav faction.

What Supreme Court said on Uddhav Thackeray and restoration of government
Uddhav Thackeray’s Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government cannot be restored, as Uddhav Thackeray did not face the floor test in the assembly. He resigned before that. In such a situation, the decision of the then Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is also justified because he called Eknath Shinde to form the government. Shinde had the support of the BJP, the single largest party in the assembly.

On June 28, Governor Koshyari called a floor test. Uddhav went to the Supreme Court against this but the Supreme Court refused to stay. Uddhav resigned on 29 June.

What Supreme Court said On Eknath Shinde and his government

Speaker should decide on disqualification of Shinde and 15 MLAs within a reasonable time. That means Eknath Shinde will not have to resign now and he will continue to be the Chief Minister.

On 25 June 2022, Maharashtra’s deputy speaker Narhari Jirwal disqualified 16 rebel MLAs, including Shinde. Shinde faction went to the Supreme Court against this, a notice was sent to the Deputy Speaker.

Supreme Court on Bharat Gogavale and Rahul Narvekar and their whip :

The Speaker’s decision to appoint Shinde faction’s Bhagat Gogavale as the Shiv Sena whip was wrong in law. The speaker did not seek to identify whether Sunil Prabhu (Uddhav faction) was the official whip from the party or Bharat. The speaker had to consider him as the whip, who was appointed by the Shiv Sena.

Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar replaced Sunil Prabhu of the Thackeray faction and appointed Bharat Gogavale of the Shinde camp as chief whip of the Shiv Sena. Then on July 4, Gogavale issued a whip to all the MLAs to attend the floor test.

Supreme Court on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and calling floor test :

It was not right for Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to call Uddhav for floor test. The Governor made a mistake by relying on a group of Shiv Sena MLAs who said that Uddhav did not have the support of MLAs.

 On June 28, Koshyari had asked Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority in the floor test.

Supreme Court on Nabam Rebia Case
The example of the Nabam Rebia case was cited during the hearing in the Supreme Court on the Speaker’s right to disqualify legislators. 

The Supreme Court said that the 5-judge bench had given the verdict in the Rebia case. Sending this decision for consideration in front of a larger bench of 7 judges.
What happened:

 In 2016, 27 Congress MLAs rebelled in Arunachal Pradesh to remove CM Nabam Tuki. Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia was about to disqualify him. Meanwhile Governor Rajkhoah ordered the removal of Rebia. After this Rebia reached the Supreme Court. The court revoked President’s rule. 

It was said that the governor cannot call the session without the recommendation of the CM. But the court rejected the petition of Rebia, in which he appealed to restore the government.

So far in politics of Maharashtra…

On February 17, the bench heard the petitions of Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena.

From February 21, the court had heard this case for 9 consecutive days.

On March 16, after the arguments of all the parties were completed, the court had reserved the verdict.

On March 16, the last day of hearing, the Supreme Court had wondered how the court could restore the Uddhav government as Uddhav had resigned before the floor test. In his petition, Uddhav demanded that the Governor’s order of June 2022 be quashed, in which Uddhav was asked to prove his majority in the House. On this, the Uddhav faction said that the status quo (status quo) should be restored, that is, the Uddhav government should be restored as the court had ordered in 2016 to restore the Nabam Tuki government in Arunachal Pradesh.

On August 23, 2022, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then CJI NV Ramana, formulated several questions of law on the petitions of both the factions and referred the case to a five-judge bench. was referred to the Bench. Several constitutional questions have been raised in the petitions of defection, merger and disqualification.

Senior advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Harish Salve, Mahesh Jethmalani and Abhikalp Pratap Singh presented arguments on behalf of the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in the case. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Governor’s office in the matter. On the other hand, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Devdutt Kamat and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari presented arguments on behalf of the Uddhav faction.

Uddhav faction demanded cancellation of Governor’s order to conduct floor test in June 2022. The Governor’s decision is dangerous for democracy and it is fatal for the democratic system of the country.

Uddhav’s lawyer Kapil Sibal had said that the political party has primacy in the relationship between the legislature and the political party. 

Sibal argued that the Constitution does not recognize any group, whether majority or minority. 

Sibal further argued that the MLAs’ disagreement with the government was outside the House and not inside the House.

CJI Chandrachud wanted to know from the counsel for the Uddhav Thackeray camp whether the Governor cannot listen to the members who want to withdraw support from the government. 

The CJI said that there was a section of legislators who did not want to support the then Uddhav government. He may face disqualification. This can affect the strength of the House.

Kapil Sibal replied that it used to happen when there was no Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. He said that the governor cannot ask for a trust vote on the basis of the demand of any group, because the demand for the trust vote is based on the coalition. Suddenly some MLAs in Maharashtra have decided to withdraw their support.

The Uddhav faction had said that if the Shinde government was allowed to run in Maharashtra, it would have far-reaching consequences for the country.

 Because then any government can be toppled. The Uddhav faction had also said that the Shinde faction has no argument in the matter of the Tenth Schedule.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued on behalf of the Governor of Maharashtra. He told the court that the MLAs of the Shinde faction had written to the governor that they did not want to continue with the Uddhav government. 

On this, the Governor had asked Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority in the House.

The Shinde group had argued before the Supreme Court that the test of strength is not held in the Raj Bhavan but on the floor of the House. 

The governor did nothing wrong by ordering a floor test. Senior advocate NK Kaul, appearing for the Shinde faction, said that political parties and legislature parties are linked.

The Uddhav Thackeray faction’s contention that the other factions represent a legislative party and not a political party is a fallacy. He also said that dissent is the hallmark of democracy.

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