Maharashtra: Supreme Court Refuses to Restore Thackeray Govt., Calls out Governor and Speaker for Wrong Actions
In the matter of the Shiv Sena rift in Maharashtra, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had decided against restoring the Uddhav Thackeray government in the state.
The court held that since Thackeray resigned without facing a floor test, the "Governor was right in allowing the formation of the Eknath Shinde-led government" with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, the bench had some strong words for the Governor's decision to order a floor test for the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government and the decision of the speaker to appoint the whip nominated by the Shinde group. The court deemed these decisions incorrect.
The bench comprised Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice PR Narasimha. The hearing in the matter started on February 14 this year, and the court reserved its judgement on March 16.
Highlighting the illegal nature of the speaker's decision to appoint Gogawale as the whip of the Shiv Sena party, the court said, "To hold that it is the legislative party which appoints the whip will mean severance of the umbilical cord with the political party. It means a group of MLAs can disconnect from the political party. A whip-appointed political party is crucial for the tenth schedule."
Furthermore, the court noted that the speaker did not take into account the two factions in Shiv Sena while deciding on the matter.
"The Speaker did not attempt to identify which of the two persons- Mrc Prabhu or Mr Gogawal- was the whip authorised by the political party. "
The court noted that in disqualification proceedings governed by the tenth schedule, no faction or group could claim to be the original party in defence. The defence of split is no longer valid under the current version of the tenth schedule, and any defence must comply with its current provisions.
On the decision of the Governor to order a floor test, the court held that the former was not right to decide that as the Assembly was not in session when the opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis wrote the government.
"The opposition parties did not issue any no-confidence motion. The Governor had no objective material to doubt the confidence of the government. The resolution relied on by the Governor did not indicate that MLAs wanted to withdraw support. Even if it is assumed that the MLAs wanted to exit the government, they constituted only a faction."
The court further said that neither the Constitution nor the law gives the Governor the power to enter the political arena to interfere in an internal party dispute.
"Nothing in any of the communications relied on by the Governor indicated that the dissatisfied MLAs wanted to withdraw support to the government. Governor erred in relying on the resolution of a faction of MLAs of Shiv Sena to conclude that Mr Thackeray had lost the support of the majority of MLAs. The security concerns expressed by MLAs have no bearing on the support of the government. This was an extraneous consideration that the Governor placed reliance on. Governor ought not to have relied on the letter."
However, despite these observations, the court did not restore the status quo ante as requested by the Thackeray faction.
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