Court will hear plea of Uddhav Thackeray's camp against speaker's decision on party whip on 11 July.
The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear on July 11 a fresh plea of the Uddhav Thackeray faction challenging the decision of the newly-elected Speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly to recognise the new party whip of Shiv Sena rebels led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and J K Maheshwari said the fresh plea would be heard by the same bench after the summer break along with other pending pleas.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Thackeray group, said "the speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise whips. This is changing the status quo of proceedings before this court. The speaker yesterday at the stroke of the pen at midnight elected the whip." Justice Banerjee said "I do not have the papers in front of me. Let all of this come up together on July 11." The fresh plea challenging the Speaker's decision has been filed by chief whip Sunil Prabhu of the Shiv Sena faction led by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
On Sunday, the Maharashtra assembly elected BJP MLA Rahul Narvekar as the Speaker.
In a major blow to the Uddhav faction ahead of the crucial trust vote of the Eknath Shinde-BJP government, the newly-appointed speaker on Sunday night removed Shiv Sena MLA Ajay Chaudhary as the legislative party leader.
A letter issued by the office of Speaker Rahul Narvekar reinstated Mr Shinde as the Shiv Sena's legislative party leader and also recognised the appointment of Bharat Gogawale from the Shinde camp as the chief whip of the Sena, removing Sunil Prabhu, who belongs to the Thackeray faction.
Earlier on July 1, the top court had agreed to hear on July 11 the plea of Sunil Prabhu seeking suspension from the assembly of the Mr Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
The earlier plea, seeking suspension of rebel Sena MLAs, was mentioned by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sunil Prabhu.
"I am sorry for the trouble...We have filed an application. Your lordships on June 29 passed an order, thereafter Eknath Shinde was sworn in as chief minister. The problem that faces the assembly and all of us is that as to how the votes have to be counted as there is no merger under...10th schedule of the Constitution," the senior lawyer had said.
"Both sides (of Shiv Sena) are going to issue a whip. How we are going to control the proceedings of the House. Whose whip is going to be counted? He (Shinde) is not the party and that matter can only be decided by the Election Commission. Ex-facie, this is not the dance of democracy," he said.
The bench said it was "fully conscious of the issue" and will look into it on July 11 when the main plea of 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs against the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker would be heard.
The vacation bench of the court had on June 27 granted interim relief to the Mr Shinde faction by extending the time for replying to the disqualification notices sent to 16 rebel Sena MLAs till July 12.
On June 29, the Maharashtra governor ordered a floor test leading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to rush to the top court seeking its deferment.
The bench refused to stay the direction of the Governor to the 31-month-old MVA government to take a floor test in the Assembly to prove its majority after which the beleaguered chief minister Uddhav Thackeray quit office.
After Mr Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, Prabhu moved to the top court seeking his suspension and of 15 rebels on various grounds, alleging that they are "acting as pawns of the BJP, thereby committing the constitutional sin of defection."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)