Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s camp informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday of the Shiv Sena party’s pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and reiterated the party’s right. Senior Advocate NK Kaul, representing the Shinde faction, told a five-judge constitution bench that their camp did not merge or split from the political party, but that they are a rival faction within the party that should be recognised as Shiv Sena because they “represent” the party.
The Maharashtra political crisis was being addressed by a five-judge Constitution bench consisting of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha. During the hearing, CJI DY Chandrachud questioned whether the governor should have invited Shinde to form the government as a matter of propriety.
In response to CJI questions, Senior Advocate NK Kaul stated that there is nothing wrong with it because there cannot be a headless government in the state and the BJP has backed the camp with whom they have a pre-poll alliance. Advocate Kaul also questioned why Uddhav Thackeray was not subjected to the floor test.
Senior Advocate Kaul also informed the court that the faction did not trust Uddhav Thackeray and that their camp did not merge or split from the political party, but that they are a rival faction within the party and should be recognised as Shiv Sena because they represent the party. He also stated that due to ideological differences, the camp cannot form an alliance with Congress or the NCP.
Senior advocate Kaul informed the court about the Shiv Sena’s pre-poll alliance with the BJP, as well as the first meeting of their camp on June 21, last year, where 34 MLAs met. The attorney also backed the governor’s decision to request a floor test for Uddhav Thackeray.
Several MLAs have written to the governor to complain that the ministry lacks a majority. Senior Advocate Kaul said that it is ECI who decides on the splinter groups but they have never claimed a split and they are claiming a rival faction within the party which is now recognised as Shivsena.
The bench also observed various facts related to the issue during the hours-long hearing. According to CJI DY Chandrachud, it makes no difference whether the rival factions claim to be former political parties or form a new political party.
The bench also stated that a split does not imply that members of the party leave the party. The tenth schedule will continue to operate even if they are all members of the same party, and it makes no difference to the tenth schedule who remains in the minority, according to the bench. According to Senior
Advocate Kaul, the tenth schedule attempts to claim that this is only the legislature party and not the political party. Kaul stated that he never stated that the two are distinct, but the argument is that the political party has the authority to make this decision.
Kaul insisted that ECI must decide which section of the recognised political party is the rival section, and that its decision is binding. Kaul also stated that their camp has always claimed to be the same Shiv Sena party and has never claimed to be a new original political party.
Kual claimed that when the Uddhav camp sensed dissent and realised that many leaders were not backing him, they went to the speaker and filed a disqualification petition, preventing a trust vote from taking place as soon as possible.
The court did note, however, that Uddhav Camp is correct in the sense that the request to swear in Shinde as Chief Minister, as well as the opportunity to prove his majority, came about solely because the speaker could not disqualify Shinde. The hearing remained inconclusive today and will be resumed tomorrow.