Decide disqualification pleas of Mah Shiv Sena & NCP MLAs by Dec & Jan 31 : SC directs speaker

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Supreme Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar to decide the disqualification petitions of Shiv Sena & NCP MLAs by December 2023 & January 31, 2024, with respect to last year’s political crisis in the state.

The Apex Court directed Narwekar to decide the disqualification petitions against Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) who backed him during the rebellion against Uddhav Thackeray last year.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, and also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, passed the order.

“The procedural wranglings should not be permitted to delay the petitions. We direct that proceedings shall be concluded and directions passed by December 31 2023,” a bench of the Top Court, led by the CJI said.

During the course of the hearing today, the Top Court expressed its displeasure over the delay in deciding the disqualification petitions, and observed, we are concerned that the sanctity of the tenth schedule must be maintained. Otherwise we are throwing these provisions to the wind.

“We will list the proceedings in the first week on January now,” the Supreme Court said.

The Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, senior law officer appearing for Maharashtra Speaker, told the Top Court that he could conclude proceedings on cross disqualification petitions by Shiv Sena factions by February 29.

It was strongly opposed by senior lawyer, Kapil Sibal who appeared for Uddhav Thackeray group and he pleaded that it is been more than almost 5-6 months that the petitions are pending before him and he needed to take expeditious decision of it.

“The Assembly Speaker is acting arbitrarily and delaying the proceedings,” Sibal argued before the bench.

To this, the Apex Court, said, the State Assembly Speaker must endeavour to complete the hearing by December 31.

It also said that now the time appears to be ripe for this court to hear the disqualification petitions.

The Court was hearing a plea filed by Jayant Patil, Sunil Prabhu and others against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for a direction to expeditiously decide the disqualification petitions pending against rebel Shiv Sena legislators.

The plea by Sunil Prabhu was filed soon after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs, including Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, joined the Eknath Shinde faction.

In his plea, Prabhu stated that a Supreme Court Constitution Bench had, on May 11 this year, directed the Speaker to decide the pending disqualification petitions within a reasonable period. However, no such step has yet been taken, he said.

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