"I will take legal advice and then decide over it."
Maharashtra assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on Sunday left for New Delhi where he is scheduled to attend a couple of meetings, including one with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Notably, the Supreme Court on October 17 granted Mr Narwekar a final opportunity to give it a realistic time-frame for deciding the cross-petitions filed by rival factions of the Shiv Sena seeking disqualification of each other's MLAs following a split in the party.
The top court said the disqualification petitions have to be adjudicated expeditiously and posted the matter for hearing on October 30.
Speaking to reporters at the Mumbai airport on Sunday while leaving for the national capital, Mr Narwekar said, "There are a couple of meetings scheduled in Delhi, including one with the Solicitor General (SG). It is a scheduled visit to Delhi."
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday pleas filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena and the Sharad Pawar bloc of the NCP, seeking a direction to Mr Narwekar to expeditiously decide disqualification petitions against some MLAs.
Asked about it, Mr Narwekar said, "I will take legal advice and then decide over it." To a query on notices to NCP MLAs over the disqualification petitions, the speaker said, "It was part of the procedure. I issued the notices after scrutiny of the submitted disqualification petitions was over."
On October 17, an top court bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said, "We are not satisfied with the time schedule. SG has apprised that during Dussehra breaks he would personally engage with the speaker so as to indicate a firm set of modalities."
The top court had earlier come down hard on the speaker over the delay in deciding the pleas filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction for disqualification of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and several MLAs loyal to him, saying the speaker cannot defeat the orders of the top court.
Similar disqualification petitions have also been filed by the Shinde bloc against lawmakers owing allegiance to Thackeray.
On September 18, the top court directed the speaker to spell out the timeline for adjudication of the disqualification petitions against Shinde and Shiv Sena MLAs owing allegiance to him who had tied up with the BJP to form a new government in June 2022.
The court had asked the solicitor general to apprise the bench of the time schedule to be fixed by the speaker for deciding the pleas for disqualification of 56 MLAs including lawmakers belonging to the Shinde faction.
The Thackeray faction moved the apex court in July seeking direction to the state assembly speaker to expeditiously adjudicate the disqualification petitions in a time-bound manner.
The plea by Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MLA Sunil Prabhu, who as the chief whip of the undivided Shiv Sena filed the disqualification petitions against Shinde and other MLAs in 2022, alleged Speaker Narwekar was deliberately delaying the adjudication despite the verdict of the apex court.
Later, a separate plea was filed by the Sharad Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for a direction to the assembly speaker to expeditiously decide the disqualification petitions against Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and party MLAs loyal to him.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)