Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench unanimously pointed out that it could not restore Uddhav Thackeray’s government even though Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s call for a floor test was “illegal” and “unjustified”.
The bench said Thackeray resigned instead of facing a floor test. “Cannot quash a resignation that was voluntarily given,” the Supreme Court said.
The bench said Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s decision to recognize Bharat Gogawale as chief whip of the Shiv Sena Legislative Party the rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde “is illegal”.
“The Speaker did not attempt to identify which of the two persons – Sunil Prabhu or Gogawale, was the whip authorised by the political party. The Speaker must recognise only the whip that is appointed by the political party,” the bench said.
SC said MLAs were simply expressing their dissatisfaction with the party. A floor test cannot be resolved to judge discontent within a party, the bench said. The Governor was not empowered to enter the political arena on inter-party disputes or intra-party disputes, it added.
Supreme Court’s observation is a scathing indictment of the Governor, the Speaker, and incumbent CM Eknath Shine who broke away from the Shiv Sena with 38 rebel MLAs to stake claim for the government triggering the Maharashtra political crisis and downfall of Thackeray’s government.
The verdict was given on a batch of cross-appeals pleas filed by ex-Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and incumbent CM Eknath Shinde seeking ownership of the party name and symbol.
Last year in June, Shine had challenged the then Deputy Speaker’s disqualification notice to the Shiv Sena rebels under the 10th schedule, while Thackeray challenged Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision to call for a trust vote.
In August 2022, the bench led by then-Chief Justice NV Ramana referred the plea to a Constitution Bench and framed 11 questions for consideration.
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