SC verdict on the Shiv Sena case: Key takeaways from Supreme Court’s Maharashtra verdict

Source: The post is based on the following articles

The SC ruling on Sena vs. Senapublished in The Hindu on 12th May 2023

“Key takeaways from Supreme Court’s Maharashtra verdict” published in the Indian Express on 12th May 2023.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has passed a unanimous judgment on the various issues related to the split in Shiv Sena in June 2022.

What was the case before the Supreme Court?

In June 2022, a group of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde rebelled against the then Uddhav Thackeray.

When it became evident that the rebel would call for a trust, the Shinde received disqualification notices from the then deputy speaker.

The faction moved to the Supreme Court challenging the disqualification notices served on them by the Deputy Speaker.

Thereafter, petitions were also filed by the Thackeray group challenging the then Maharashtra Governor’s decision to call for a trust vote and the swearing-in of Mr. Shinde as Chief Minister. The election of the new Speaker was also challenged. 

What is the SC verdict on the Shiv Sena case?

verdict on the Shiv Sena case
Source: Hindustan Times

MLA disqualifications: The Supreme Court did not interfere with the proceedings related to the disqualification of 16 MLAs including the present Chief Minister.

– The court stated that the issue of disqualification should be decided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly as per established procedures in law.

Note: The Speaker is the authority to adjudicate petitions for disqualification under the 10th Schedule. 

Appointment of the whip: The court deemed the appointment of the whip by the split-led faction to be illegal.

The Speaker should have conducted an independent inquiry to verify the decision of the political party regarding the appointment of the whip.

On Governor calling for floor test: The court said that the Governor was not justified in calling upon Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House because he did not have objective material before him to reach the conclusion.

But the Court also said that status quo ante cannot be restored because Mr Thackeray did not face the floor test and resigned from the post.

The distinction between Legislature Party and Political Party: Questions arose on whose whip is binding, if the whip appointed by the political party and the one acting on behalf of the legislature party giving different instructions.

The present ruling faction argued that the legislature party and the political party are inextricably intertwined. But the court said the two could not be conflated.

The court said that as per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, an association of individuals calling itself a political party has to be registered with the EC.

The SC verdict on the Shiv Sena case said that Parliament had recognised the independent existence of a legislature party to the limited extent of providing a defence to the actions of legislators of the political party.

The court also said that a whip interacts with members of the legislative party to communicate the directions of the political party. It held that it is the political party and not the legislature party which appoints the Whip and the Leader of the party in the House.

Therefore, it said the Speaker must recognise only the whip and leader who are duly recognised by the political party.

Concurrent Jurisdiction of Speaker and EC: The court rejected the contention that the Election Commission was barred from deciding on the party symbol dispute until the Speaker decided the disqualification pleas.

The court stated that both the Speaker and the EC can adjudicate issues concurrently.

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