The PIL had sought the construction of a wall in the vicinity of Ram Setu, situated on Dhanushkodi sea in Rameshwaram, which is the south-most tip of the Indian peninsular.
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, directed the listing of a batch of petitions by the warring faction of Shiv Sena led by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and incumbent Chief Minister Eknath Shinde relating to Maharashtra political crisis rooted in Shiv Sena feud on February 14.
A five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices M.R.Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha ordered the posting of the matter on February 14 as senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Uddhav Thackeray camp reiterated his plea for the matter to be heard by a seven-judge bench.
Sibal said that matters need to be heard by a seven-judge constitution bench as it requires a revisit of the 2016 judgement in Nabam Rebia case relating to the political crisis in Manipur.
The top court’s constitution bench by its July 13, 2016, judgment had ruled that a Speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.
The constitution bench today said that when it will hear the matter on February 14, it will first hold a hearing on whether the matter be heard by a seven-judge bench or by a five-judge bench.
In the last hearing of the matter on December 13, 2022, on Sibal’s insistence that the matter be heard by a seven-judge constitution bench, the top court had ordered that Sibal will circulate a short note and an advance copy of the same would be given to advocates appearing for Maharashtra government, the State Governor and the private respondents.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who differed with Sibal on referring the matters to a seven-judge constitution bench said that he too would circulate a short note.
In August, a three-judge bench had referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the issues arising from the petition filed by rival groups of Shiv Sena in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis.
It had said that some of the issues involved in the Maharashtra political crisis may require consideration by a larger constitution bench.
Thackeray-led faction had approached the top court challenging the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision to invite Eknath Shinde to form the government and also the Speaker’s election and floor test. Later they had challenged Shinde group approaching the poll panel claiming they are ‘real’ Shiv Sena.
They had also challenged the newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s action recognising the whip of Eknath Shinde group as the whip of Shiv Sena. The plea said the newly appointed Speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise whips nominated by Shinde as Uddhav Thackeray is still the head of Shiv Sena official party.
Thackeray camp’s Sunil Prabhu had filed a plea seeking suspension from Maharashtra Assembly of new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
Shinde’s group challenged the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to 16 rebel MLAs as well as appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader, is also pending before the apex court.
On June 29, the top court gave a go-ahead to the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on June 30. Refusing to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority support on the floor of the House on June 30, the bench had issued notice on Prabhu’s plea against the floor test.
After the apex court’s order, Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation as the Chief Minister and Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as the Chief Minister.