Maharashtra: BJP calls SC verdict ‘victory’ for democracy, Uddhav terms Shinde govt ‘immoral’

12 May, 2023 | Pragati Singh

Maharashtra National

After the verdict by the Supreme Court on last year's political crisis in Maharashtra, both parties have made claims and counter-claims on each other's positions.

The ruling coalition of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena hailed the Supreme Court ruling over Maharashtra’s political crisis on Thursday as a “victory” for democracy, whereas the rival Uddhav Thackeray camp lambasted the government as unconstitutional and immoral.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said on Thursday that the then-titular head of the richest state acted appropriately given the circumstances. “I won’t talk about what Supreme Court said about the then Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, but I would say that he acted as per the situation at the time,” Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said while talking to the media.

Shinde while sitting along with Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shinde added, “What if the floor test had happened and their (MVA) government had failed it?”

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Maharashtra political crisis, calling it a “victory” for democracy and the democratic process.

Addressing a joint press conference with CM Shinde in Mumbai, Fadanvis said “This is a victory for democracy and the democratic process. We are satisfied with the verdict given by the Supreme Court,”

The Deputy Chief Minister went on to say that Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) “conspiracy” had been defeated by the Supreme Court’s decision. “The present government is completely legal,” he added. The Supreme Court decision was praised by Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar, who termed it “meritorious” and not related to the state’s political situation.

“I do not think the court gave order on the political situation, it’s a meritorious judgment. It was a fair judgment. So, I welcome the judgment delivered by Supreme Court,” Rahul Narvekar said.

Eknath Shinde’s government in Maharashtra unconstitutional: Uddhav Thackeray

However, following the verdict, Uddhav Thackeray asked Shinde to resign from his position on ‘moral grounds.’ “People who left my party have no right to ask me questions. If this CM has any morality, he must resign as I did. They betrayed my party and the legacy of my father. I may have done wrong by resigning but I did it on moral grounds,” Uddhav said while talking to the reporters.

On Thursday, advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued for Uddhav Thackeray’s side in the Supreme Court in the Maharashtra political crisis case, questioning the moral and legal right of the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government to continue when there are findings against the Governor, Speaker, and recognition of the whip.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the legal aid for Uddhav Thackeray in Supreme Court for Maharashtra political crisis case, questioned the moral and legal right of the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government to continue when there are findings against the Governor, Speaker, and recognition of the whip.

“The Speaker should disqualify the MLAs. Only by doing this justice will be served.” Singhvi asked “What moral and legal right does this government has to continue for even a minute more when there are findings against the Governor, Speaker and the recognition of the Whip?” he added.

As soon as the Supreme Court judgment on the previous year’s Maharashtra political crisis came, Uddhav-led Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut claimed that Eknath Shinde’s government in Maharashtra “is illegal and formed against the Constitution”.

“Supreme Court has said that the Shiv Sena Shinde group’s Whip is illegal…The current government is illegal and formed against the Constitution,” Raut stated on Thursday.

“We are happy with the decision of the Supreme Court, democracy and the judicial system is still alive in the country…This government needs to resign immediately. The current government is illegal, if Uddhav Thackeray had not resigned as a matter of morality he would have become the Chief Minister. It means the new government formed is illegal and against the constitution…It cannot belong to any faction, Supreme Court has said,” he added.

Shinde administration in Maharashtra ‘Unconstitutional. Illegal. Immoral’: Aditya Thackeray

Former Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray called the Shinde administration “unconstitutional.” He tweeted “Unconstitutional. Illegal. Immoral. That is the only way to look at mindhe- bjp gaddar sarkar, especially after today’s verdict,”

The Supreme Court refused to interfere with the formation of the Shiv Sena government with the support of the BJP on Thursday, a major relief for Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, as Uddhav Thackeray resigned without facing a floor test.

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that former Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was “not justified” in calling for a floor test at the request of the Eknath Shinde faction because he lacked sufficient objective evidence to conclude that then-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had lost the confidence of the House.

A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha ruled that the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government could not be disqualified and Uddhav Thackeray reinstated as Chief Minister because the latter chose to resign rather than face a test of strength in the Assembly.

According to the court, the political crisis in Maharashtra arose from Shiv Sena party differences.

“However, the floor test cannot be used as a medium to resolve internal party disputes or intra-party disputes. Dissent and disagreement within a political party must be resolved in accordance with the remedies prescribed under the party constitution, or through any other methods that the party chooses to opt for,” the court ruled. “There is a marked difference between a party not supporting a government, and individuals within a party expressing their discontent with their party leadership and functioning.”

It further stated that the Governor is the “titular head of the State government” and he is a constitutional functionary who derives his authority from the Constitution. “This being the case, the Governor must be cognisant of the constitutional bounds of the power vested in him. He cannot exercise a power that is not conferred on him by the Constitution or a law made under it,” the top court ruled.

The Supreme Court issued its decision on a batch of petitions filed by Shiv Sena rival groups in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis. The Supreme Court also stated that the Speaker must rule on disqualification petitions within a reasonable time frame.

Another Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab said, “Supreme Court’s judgement is in favour of Uddhav Thackeray. It is on record that there was a violation of Whip and soon they (Shinde faction MLAs) will be disqualified.”

Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) leader Rahul Ramesh Shewale called the Supreme Court’s decision a “big relief” for the party. He said “This is a big relief to the Shinde government in Maharashtra. Now the State will get a stable government. We welcome Supreme Court’s decision.”

Although Dilip Walse Patil, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, stated that the court’s ruling represents a critical stance on the fabric of Maharashtra’s politics as a whole. “The verdict given by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court regarding the political transition in Maharashtra, which took place about 11 months ago, presents a critical stance on the fabric of Maharashtra’s politics as a whole.”

The top court’s three-judge bench referred the issues involved in the petition filed by rival Shiv Sena groups in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis to a five-judge Constitution bench in August last year.

The Supreme Court approved the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly On June 30, 2022. It had refused to stay the Maharashtra Governor’s order requiring then-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to demonstrate his majority support on the House floor on June 30.

Following the order of the Supreme Court, Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister, and Eknath Shinde was sworn in as Chief Minister.