Supreme Court’s Ruling on Shiv Sena Split: Decoding the Constitutional Impact

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Shiv Sena Split: Explained SC verdict

                 Image Source- Google| Image By-The week

The Supreme Court of India recently delivered a unanimous verdict on various issues concerning the split in Shiv Sena in June 2022. The background of the case involves the replacement of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government by another government, which comprised a faction of the Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and several Independent MLAs.
The first petition was filed by Eknath Shinde, the current Chief Minister, last June, after notices were issued by the then Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly against 40 rebellion MLAs under 10th Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with disqualification on the grounds of defection. Subsequently, petitions were 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 being challenged.

                                        Image Source- Google| Image By-The Hindu       

The observations made by the Supreme Court in the Maharashtra verdict are as follows:

Governor’s Role: The then Maharashtra Governor was deemed unjustified in calling for a floor test on June 30, 2022, as there was no objective material to suggest that the incumbent government had lost the confidence of the House. The Governor’s involvement in inter or intra-party disputes is not within their purview.

Appointment of Whip: The Speaker must recognize the whip after conducting an independent inquiry based on the party rules. The power to appoint a whip and a leader lies with the “political party” and not the “legislature party” as stated in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

Legislative Party vs. Political Party: Allowing the legislative wing to act independently of the political party goes against the constitutional system of governance.

Disqualification Procedure: Disqualification should be determined according to established legal procedures, and the Speaker is the appropriate authority for this under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which outlines the anti-defection law. When deciding disqualification pleas, the Speaker must consider the constitution of the political party (as submitted to the Election Commission of India).

Pending Disqualification Petitions: The Speaker should decide on pending disqualification petitions within a reasonable timeframe. MLAs have the right to participate in the proceedings of the House regardless of any pending petitions for disqualification.

Floor Test: A floor test should be conducted by the Governor only upon obtaining objective material indicating that the incumbent government has lost the confidence of the House.

Simultaneous Adjudication by Speaker and EC: The court dismissed the argument made by the Thackeray group that the Election Commission (EC) should wait for the Speaker to decide on the party symbol dispute. The court stated that such a delay would indefinitely halt proceedings before the EC. The Speaker’s decision would only become final after the appeals against it were resolved. The court emphasized that the Speaker and EC could simultaneously adjudicate on the issues at hand.

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