The Supreme Court today sent the matter involving the Shiv Sena claim to a constitution bench. It posed eight questions on defection, merger, and disqualification for the bigger bench to determine in the dispute over the party between Maharashtra President Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Supreme Court ordered the listing of cases before the Constitution Bench on Thursday, and told the Election Commission not to issue any orders on the Shinde faction’s request that it be recognised as the true Shiv Sena and awarded the party’s poll symbol.
“Listen to the case before the constitution bench the day after tomorrow, and the court will rule regarding the symbol relating to the Election Commission process from the outset,” stated the bench, which included Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari, and Hima Kohli.
The appeal will be heard by a five-member constitution bench on Thursday.
The court was hearing appeals from Shiv Sena factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde about MLA disqualification and other technical concerns.
According to the court, the petitions address key constitutional concerns relevant to the 10th schedule of the Constitution, such as disqualification, the power of the Speaker and Governor, and judicial review.
The 10th Schedule of the Constitution prohibits elected and nominated members from defecting from their political party and has harsh anti-defection measures.
Shiv Sena MLAs loyal to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, according to the Uddhav Thackeray camp, may avoid disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution only by joining with another political party.
Shinde had urged the Supreme Court late last month to reject all Uddhav Thackeray’s team’s petitions and allow the Election Commission to determine which part is the true Shiv Sena.
Shinde said that he controls the numbers – and so the Sena – and that judges should not intervene with internal party decisions “made democratically by the majority.”
In June, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) administration was brought down by a revolt headed by Shinde and 39 of the Shiv Sena’s 55 MLAs.
Following the demise of the MVA administration, Shinde was sworn in as chief minister with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Devendra Fadnavis, a senior BJP politician, is the new government’s, Deputy Chief Minister.