New Delhi, September 18
Disapproving of the inordinate delay on the part of Maharashtra Assembly Speaker in adjudicating on anti-defection petitions against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena MLAs supporting him, the Supreme Court on Monday asked him to come out with a timeline within a week for deciding the matter.
“What did the speaker do after the May 11 judgement by the court?... It appears that nothing has happened… You can't say that I'll hear it in due course,” a three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who represented Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar.
As Mehta asked if the Speaker should submit the details of his day-to-today functioning to the court, the CJI said, “He's a tribunal under the Tenth Schedule (of the Constitution). As a tribunal he is amenable to this court's jurisdiction...the Speaker has to abide by the dignity of the Supreme Court. 11th May… months have passed and only notice has been issued.”
While delivering its verdict on various issues arising out of the 2022 Maharashtra political crisis, a five-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud had on May 11 directed the speaker to decide the disqualification petitions under the anti-defection law within a reasonable time.
“We expect deference and dignity to the directions issued by the Supreme Court,” the Bench said, posting Shiv Sena (UBT) faction’s petition seeking disqualification of Shinde and other Shiv Sena MLAs supporting him for hearing after two weeks.
Asking the Speaker to issue procedural directions within a week setting out a timeline to complete the proceedings, the Bench said the Solicitor General shall inform it about the timeline set for disposing of the disqualification petitions.
On behalf of Shiv Sena-UTB faction, senior counsel Kapil Sibal alleged that the Speaker was sitting on the disqualification petitions even as senior counsel NK Kaul and Mahesh Jethmalani accused the Uddhav group of failing to file the documents in time, leading to the delay.
The Supreme Court had on July 14 issued notice to the office of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker on Shiv Sena-UTB legislator Sunil Prabhu’s petition seeking expeditious disposal of its plea for disqualification of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other Sena MLAs, who formed a new government with the BJP in June 2022.
Prabhu accused Speaker Rahul Narwekar of deliberately delaying the adjudication despite the May 11 Constitution Bench verdict asking him to take a call on the petitions within a reasonable period.
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