The Supreme Court reprimanded the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Friday for the delay in reaching a decision on the disqualification proceedings against rebel Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from the former Shiv Sena party.
The Bench, consisting of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, emphasized the need for a timely decision before the next elections and stated that the proceedings cannot continue indefinitely.
The Court requested Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta and Maharashtra Advocate General Dr Birendra Saraf to advise the Speaker accordingly.
It cautioned that if a proper timeline for concluding the proceedings is not provided by Monday, the top court itself will establish a timeline. CJI Chandrachud remarked that someone must inform the Speaker that he cannot defy the orders of the Supreme Court and criticized the delay in the hearing schedule.
The Court's comment was prompted by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Sunil Prabhu, an MLA from the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, who questioned the Speaker's procedure for deciding on the proceedings.
CJI Chandrachud expressed serious concern and emphasized that the Speaker must demonstrate that he is handling the matter seriously, rather than treating it as a mere formality.
The Court asserted that its authority must be respected when a decision contradicts the Constitution of India. The Court urged the Speaker to conduct day-to-day proceedings and complete the matter promptly.
Furthermore, the CJI stated that the Speaker, as an election tribunal, is subject to the jurisdiction of the top court. The Court emphasized the importance of giving the impression that there is a genuine consideration of the situation by following the prescribed procedure.
Last month, the Supreme Court issued a directive to the Speaker, instructing them to provide procedural directions and timelines for the resolution of the pending disqualification petitions against rebel Shiv Sena legislators within a week. The Bench emphasized that these proceedings, which have been ongoing since May, cannot continue indefinitely.
Today, the Court stated that if no action is taken even after the given timeframe, it would be compelled to assert that the Speaker must make a decision within two months. The Chief Justice of India (CJI) remarked that a certain level of seriousness must be maintained in a tribunal under the Tenth Schedule, and that proceedings under such tribunals cannot be treated as a farce. It is crucial to instill confidence in the process, the CJI added.
The Court was addressing a plea to expedite the resolution of the pending disqualification petitions against the MLAs. In July of this year, the Court had requested a response from the Speaker regarding this matter.
The plea, filed by Sunil Prabhu, came shortly after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar and eight MLAs, including Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, joined the Eknath Shinde faction.
In his plea, Prabhu highlighted that a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had directed the Speaker on May 11 of this year to decide the pending disqualification petitions within a reasonable period. However, no action has been taken thus far, he argued.
According to the plea, the constitutional requirement of fairness necessitates that the Speaker promptly decide on the matter of disqualification.
Prabhu further contended that the Speaker's failure to make a decision in the disqualification proceedings constitutes a serious breach of constitutional propriety.
TAGS: Supreme Court of India Shiv Sena Uddhav Thackeray Maharashtra Political Crisis Eknath Shinde Maharashtra speaker