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Sena vs Sena: SC sends Maharashtra political petitions to 5 judge Constitution bench

A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli referred the petitions to a five-judge bench and said the case will be heard on August 25 by the bench.

ANI | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a five-judge Constitution bench the issues involved in the petition filed by rival groups of Shiv Sena in connection with the Maharashtra political crisis.

A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli referred the petitions to a five-judge bench and said the case will be heard on August 25 by the bench. The apex court also ordered the Election Commission of India not to decide till August 25 the application filed by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Eknath Shinde camp for recognition as the ‘real Shiv Sena’ party and allotment of the bow and arrow symbol to it.

The top court, on the request of senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the Thackeray camp, posted the matter before the Constitution bench on Thursday for interim relief on Shiv Sena’s symbol issue.

Uddhav Thackeray-led camp of Shiv Sena had sought stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission of India on Eknath Shinde group’s claim for recognition as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena.

The order of apex court came on several pleas filed by both the factions of Shiv Sena.

Earlier, the Supreme Court three-judge bench had said that some of the issues involved in the Maharashtra political crisis may require a larger Constitutional bench for consideration.

It had also asked the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Rahul Narwekar not to take any action on the new disqualification notices issued against the members of Shiv Sena.

There are various petitions pending before the apex court filed by both the factions of Shiv Sena.

Uddhav 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. Recently 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 Chief Minister 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.

The Shinde group challenged the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to 16 rebel MLAs as well as the 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 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.

On June 27, the top court had granted interim relief to Shinde and other rebel MLAs to file their reply on disqualification notices issued to them by Deputy Speaker by July 12, 5.30 pm. Earlier, Deputy Speaker had granted them time to file reply by June 27, 5.30 pm.