New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on a plea filed by the Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray faction against the delay by him in deciding the disqualification petitions filed against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his camp.
A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala. and Manoj Misra came down heavily on the issue of delays in ruling on disqualification of lawmakers who quit the Thackeray faction and aligned with the Shinde group.
The CJI said that the Speaker has to abide by the dignity of the Supreme Court, and that four months have passed since their judgement.
"... and we are only at the stage of notice," he said.
The court asked what action had been taken following its May 11 judgement, wherein he was told to rule on the petitions within a "reasonable time".
The court remarked that the Speaker could not continue to drag his feet and directed that he shall hear the concerned matter no later than a period of one week.
On July 14, the apex court had issued notice and called for responses of Narwekar and Shinde within a period of two weeks.
The plea filed by Shiv Sena-UBT leader Sunil Prabhu has alleged that the Speaker is delaying in deciding the disqualification pleas to permit "the illegal continuance of Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister, against whom the disqualification petitions are pending".
The Thackeray faction had moved the apex court on July 4 against the delay by the Speaker in deciding the disqualification petitions pending against Shinde and his camp. On May 11, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court had directed that the Maharashtra Speaker "must decide disqualification petitions in a reasonable time" against 16 Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, who were accused of anti-party activities.
In its judgement, the top court had refused to reinstate Uddhav Thackery as the Chief Minister as he had tendered his resignation voluntarily before facing the floor test in the House. The five judges unanimously had held that then Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was not justified in calling upon Thackeray to prove his majority, but said that it was justified to invite Shinde to form the government after the post of the Chief Minister fell vacant as Thackeray tendered resignation on June 29.
Declaring the decision taken by the Speaker to recognise Bharat Gogawale (from Shinde faction) as the Chief Whip of Shiv Sena in place of Prabhu as "contrary to law", the CJI Chandrachud-led constitution bench had held that the political party and not the legislature party appoints the Whip and the Leader of the party in the House.