Supreme Court of India: The Constitution Bench of Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, CJ., M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S.Narasimha, J.J., heard a batch of petitions, wherein the lead matter was filed by Subhash Desai (‘petitioner’), the General Secretary of the Shiv Sena, Political Party , challenged the ex-facie arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal action of the Governor of Maharashtra for inviting Eknath Rao Sambhaji Shinde to be the Chief Minister (‘CM’) of Maharashtra.
The petitioner alleged that Eknath Shinde conspired to topple Shiv Sena Government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, President of Shiv Sena with the leaders of Bhartiya Janata Party, resulting in loss of majority. Further, Eknath Shinde along with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis met the Governor and staked claim to form the Government with the support of 39 Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assemblies (‘MLA’).
The petition questioned lack of compliance of the newly formed Maharashtra Government with the 10th Schedule of Constitution of India and further alleged that the Governor acted under the guidance of political masters to grant de-facto recognition to the ‘rebel’ Shiv Sena MLAs indulging in anti-party activities in order to destabilize the government.
The petitioner contended that Eknath Shinde’s appointment asthe CM violates Article 164(1-B) of the Constitution and that the provisions for prevention of defection serves no purpose, as defectors were being rewarded for committing the constitutional sin of defection.
Thus, the petitioner prayed for quashing the proceedings of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly held in July 2022, confidence motion in favour of Eknath Shinde, formation of new Government, election of Speaker, and call for records of all pending disqualification petitions filed against the respondent under para 2(1)(a) and para 2(1)(b) of 10th Schedule and Article 142 of the Constitution.
This was followed by Sunil Prabhu, member of the 14th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, who sought disqualification of Eknath Shinde as the leader., and Bharat Gogawale as the Chief Whip. He also sought quashing of the summons by the speakers in the disqualification petitions filed against 14 MLAs of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party Leader and quash the proceedings initiated by Bharat Gogawale. He further sought to quash the direction issued to Uddhav Thackrey by the Governor, to prove his majority on the floor of the house by holding a trust vote.
Meanwhile, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis approached the Governor to hold a floor test on 30-06-2022, which was sought to be stayed through another petition filed before the Supreme Court by Sunil Prabhu in view of pending ‘disqualification petition’ . The same was followed by Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation from the post of Maharashtra CM.
The ‘rebel’ MLAs were subsequently removed from the Membership Register of Shiv Sena which was communicated to the Election Commission of India.
Respondents asserted on fact that the then CM Uddhav Thackeray voluntarily resigned from the post, thus, denying the claims of illegality against Governor’s call for majority in the House.
The respondents while referring to Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu, 1992 Supp (2) SCC 651 contended that the issue of disqualification petitions was covered under the Supreme Court judgement and the election of the Speaker of the Houseas well as the confidence motion in favour of Eknath Shinde was justified under Articles 212(1) and 178 of the Constitution for office vacancy
The matter is listed for further hearing on 14-02-2023
[Subhash Desai v. Governor of Maharashtra, Civil Writ Petition No. 493 of 2022, matter heard on 10-01-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For Petitioners: Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, Advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, Advocate Rohit Sharma, Advocate Rajesh Inamdar, Advocate on Record Javedur Rahman, Advocate Nizam Pasha, Advocate Harsh Pandey, Advocate Revanta Solanki, Advocate Amit Bhandari, Advocate on Record Anish R. Shah, Advocate Sunny Jain, Advocate Nishant Patil, Advocate Devyani Gupta, Advocate Tanvi Anand, Advocate Aparajita Jamwal, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, Senior Advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar, Senior Advocate Malvika Trivedi, Advocate Chirag Shah, Advocate Utsav Trivedi, Advocate Manini Roy, Advocate Himanshu Sachdeva, Advocate Shivani Bhushan, Advocate Soumya Dutta, Advocate Pracheta Garg, Advocate Aditya Sidhra, Advocate Nadeem Afroz, Advocate Sujal Gupta, Advocate Mugdha Pande, Advocate Ajay Awasthi, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar, Advocate on Record Abhikalp Pratap Singh, Advocate Prabhas Bajaj, Advocate Dhruv Sharma, Advocate Pracheta Kar, Advocate Aditya Sidhra, Advocate Aarzoo Aneja, Advocate Ira Mahajan, Advocate Toshiv Goyal, Advocate Raghav Agrawal, Advocate Shreya Saxena, Advocate Ajay Sabharwal, Advocate Manmeet Kaur Sareen, Advocate Nikhil Purohit, Advocate Ashok Kumar and Advocate Mudassir
For Respondents: Advocate on Record Aaditya Aniruddha Pande, Advocate Bharat Bagla, Advocate Kirti Dadheech, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, Advocate Chirag J Shah, Advocate Utsav Trivedi, Advocate Nihar Thackray, Advocate Himanshu Sachdeva, Advocate Manini Roy, Advocate Shivani Bhushan, Advocate Piyush Tiwari, Advocate Kanjani Sharma, Advocate Chaitali Jugran, Advocate on Record Ankit Yadav, Advocate Prakriti Rastogi, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar, Advocate on Record Abhikalp Pratap Singh, Advocate Gunjan Mangla, Advocate Dhruv Sharma, Advocate Shreya Saxena, Advocate Mahajan, Advocate on Record Pai Amit, Advocate Pankhuri Bhardwaj, Advocate Komal Mundhra, Advocate Saurabh Agrawal, Advocate on Record Astha Prasad, Advocate on Record Javedur Rahman, Advocate on Record Kailash Prashad Pandey, Advocate Mahenra V Kwachale, Advocate Vijay Pal, Advocate P.K. Singh, Advocate Anil Kumar, Advocate Umang Tripathi, Advocate Rekha Agareal Deepankar, Advocate on Record Sadashiv, Advocate on Record Aaditya Aniruddha Pande, Advocate Bharat Bagla, Advocate Kirti Dadheech, Advocate on Record Raj Singh Rana, Advocate on Record T.R.B. Sivakumar, Advocate Pradeep Kumar Gupta, Advocate on Record Ashok Kumar Gupta II and Advocate Aseem Sarode.