India | 5 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 06:42 pm
Mumbai: Breaking the silence on the ongoing political crisis in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed the state via Facebook live. In a sensational announcement, the chief minister said that he is ready to give his resignation if his rebel MLAs come and tell him directly. “I am ready to give my resignation to the MLAs, they should come here and take my resignation to Raj Bhavan. I am ready to leave the post of Shiv Sena party head also, not on the saying of others but my workers,” CM Thackeray said.Also Read - Maharashtra Political Crisis: Rebel Shiv Sena Leader Eknath Shinde to Address Media Shortly
MUMBAI: The Supreme Court order extending till July 12, 5.30 pm, the time granted by the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly to Eknath Shinde and other 'rebel' MLAs to reply to disqualification notices, paves the way for a "very definite possibility" of a floor test to prove the confidence of the Assembly, said legal experts on Monday. Given that there is no stay on such action, the entire sequence of events now points in the direction of a floor test, which could be the only way out of the impasse in the next two weeks, said experts. "There will be no disqualification till then and they are theoretically entitled to having a floor test,'' said senior counsel Vineet Naik. The SC vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala did orally allow Maharashtra state to knock on its doors in case a no-confidence motion is sought by the 'rebel' MLAs to verify the MVA's numbers in the legislature.Senior counsel Prasad Dhakephalkar said the Maharashtra governor can legally promulgate a Session of the House and direct a floor test be held. The process would then kick in and the State's legal team can immediately rush to the SC and seek an urgent hearing to try and stall it since the apex court is seized of the matter filed by the 'rebel' MLAs. Even if the motion does go ahead, the affected parties can challenge its outcome later. However, in the House during a vote for no-confidence, "there can be no concept of disqualification at that time,'' said a senior advocate from Delhi. But Dhakephalkar said if a motion is called for and a whip issued for members to vote, disobedience in the show of hands may incur consequences and pave way for notice of disqualification. With Shinde camp saying it constitutes a majority of the Shiv Sena Legislative Party, it may issue its own whip. Any disobedience of the whip may entail a disqualification petition, but then the ball may lie in the Speaker's court-and who the Speaker would be will depend on the outcome of the floor test. If the government remains, the Speaker will remain and if the Government falls the Speaker would change. "If a floor test were to be held, Shiv Sena would in all probability issue a whip to vote in favor of the Deputy Speaker. If the rebel MLAs were to defy this whip and avoid being disqualified, they would have to be 37 in number on the day of the voting or merge with the BJP or float a new political party, for which permission would be required to be sought from the Election Commission,'' said Naik. Rahul Chitnis, a counsel appearing on behalf of the State Government, informed the court that adequate steps have been taken and will be taken to protect the 39 dissident Sena MLAs and their families. "With this assurance by the State Government, which includes all three parties from MVA, it would be safe to assume that the 39 MLAs who are camping out of State can or may return to Mumbai,'' said Naik.
NEW DELHI: In a serious setback to the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Monday protected rebel Sena MLAs from disqualification proceedings till July 12, directed the ruling coalition to ensure their safety in Maharashtra and, importantly, refused the Sena-NCP-Congress coalition's request to stop the Eknathrao S Shinde-led rebels from demanding a floor test in the assembly. Shinde tweeted on the SC order, "This is the victory of Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe's thoughts." हा वंदनीय हिंदुहृदयसम्राट शिवसेनाप्रमुख बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांच्या हिंदुत्वाचा आणि धर्मवीर आनंद दिघे साहेबांच्या विचा… https://t.co/FPRiQJL8ux— Eknath Shinde - एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) 1656329992000A string of senior advocates - A M Singhvi, Rajeev Dhavan and Devadatt Kamat - made strenuous attempts on behalf of MVA and the deputy speaker to persuade a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala not to interfere in the disqualification proceedings against 15 of the 39 rebel Sena MLAs supporting Shinde, saying it fell in the exclusive domain of the speaker. When the effort did not work, Kamat tried to stop the likely effort to bring out CM Thackeray's diminished support by requesting that if the disqualification proceedings, which were to commence after the end of deadline for the 15 rebel MLAs at 5.30pm on Monday to present themselves before the deputy speaker, are being deferred, then the status quo as of Monday be maintained and there should be no demand from the rebels for a floor test. MVA govt trying to avoid floor test: Shinde's lawyerShinde's counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul promptly said "now the cat is out of the bag" and that the minority MVA government wants to avoid a floor test. The bench told Kamat that passing a restraint order on a floor test would give rise to unnecessary complications but told him the MVA was free to move court if any illegalities were committed. Kaul argued that as per a Constitution bench judgment of the SC in Nabam Rebia case, a speaker or deputy speaker facing motion of removal is prohibited from initiating disqualification proceedings against any MLA. He said the rebel MLAs had given notice on June 21 seeking removal of deputy speaker (Narhari Zirwal of NCP). Disqualification proceedings initiated against the rebel Sena MLAs is a counter manoeuver, he alleged. Kaul's argument found favour with the Supreme Court vacation bench headed by Justice Kant and submissions of Singhvi, Dhavan and Kamat failed to counter it. The bench asked Dhavan whether the deputy speaker would defer disqualification proceedings against the rebel MLAs till notice for his removal is decided by the House. But Dhavan insisted the rebel MLAs must present themselves before the deputy speaker on Monday itself to respond to disqualification notices. This made the bench pass the interim order deferring disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law.
Mumbai Building Collapsed: 7 people have been rescued from the rubble of the building.Mumbai: A four-storey building collapsed in Naik Nagar of Maharashtra's Mumbai on Monday late night, informed the civil body official adding that the rescue operation is on.The fire brigade and police team reached the spot to rescue the trapped people from the debris."A 4-storey building collapses in Naik Nagar. Fire brigade team, and police at the spot as the rescue operation continues," Pravina Morajkar, Corporator told media persons here.According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), seven people have been rescued from under the debris and are now in stable condition."Seven people rescued from under debris are in stable condition; 20 to 25 are likely to be trapped under the debris. Rescue operation on," the Corporator added.In another incident, a man died and 19 people were injured after a multi-storey building collapsed at Shastri Nagar in Maharashtra's Bandra West a few days ago.The man has been identified as Shahnawaz Alam, a 40-year-old man.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"The building collapsed around 12.15 am. One person has died and 19 are hospitalised and are now safe. All of them are labourers from Bihar. The fire brigade and officers are present at the spot," Manjunath Singe, DCP Mumbai Police told media persons.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
The political crisis in Maharashtra has given rise to the question whether the Shiv Sena rebels can avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law.Law and exceptionUnder the anti-defection law, a member of a legislature can be disqualified if he or she has voluntarily given up membership of their political party; and if he/she votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by their party (or by any person or authority authorised by the party).There is a provision to protect such legislators from disqualification. If two-thirds of the members agree to a merger with another party, they will not be disqualified. Under the 91st Amendment to the Constitution in 2003, the exemption from disqualification if one-third of the members form a separate group (the rule prior to the amendment) was removed.How courts have ruledIn February this year, the High Court of Bombay at Goa held that 10 Congress MLAs and two two MGP MLAs, who had defected to the BJP in 2019, are exempted from disqualification and held that a merger of this group of Congress MLAs is “deemed to be a merger” of the original political party with the BJP (Girish Chodankar v Speaker, Goa Legislative Assembly).In Rajendra Singh Rana v Swami Prasad Maurya (2007), a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court interpreted the term “voluntarily giving up membership of a political party”, and held that “a person may be said to have voluntarily given up membership of an original party even though he or she has not tendered resignation from membership of the party” and that an inference can be drawn from conduct of the member.The two-thirds ruleSome experts believe that even if two-thirds of legislators have broken away, they will be protected from disqualification only if they merge with another party or become a separate group in the legislature.Senior advocate Devdatt Kamat, representing Shiv Sena, said that until the MLAs rebel camp merges with another party, disqualification under the anti-defection law will still apply to them. He said there are court judgements including in the Ravi Naik case (1994) in the Supreme Court which held this view.Senior advocate Shrihari Aney, a former Advocate General of Maharashtra, said there are debatable positions about the anti-defection law. “Various courts have passed verdicts as per specific facts of the case and I am of the view that the Eknath Shinde faction has already crossed the two-thirds mark and thus they cannot be subjected under this law and they are protected from the anti-defection law. They are entitled to be identified as a separate group or a ‘gat’ in the house and to participate in the proceedings.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxDisqualification noticesAnother issue that has arisen is whether the disqualification notices served on 16 rebel MLAs can stand the scrutiny of law. Experts said that as per the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on grounds of Defection) Rules and other stipulations, the Deputy Speaker’s decision cannot be upheld.Aney said, “In my opinion, the notices disqualifying some MLAs are void ab initio. The orders are premised on the ground that these MLAs did not attend the official meeting and did not adhere to the whip. But, a whip is limited only to the business of the legislature… Here it was for a meeting called by their president Uddhav Thackeray.”
With the Supreme Court extending the deadline for them to file a response to disqualification notices, the Shiv Sena’s rebel group led by Eknath Shinde is learnt to be strategising to approach the Governor, informing him of their decision to withdraw support from the MVA, and thereby, prompting a floor test.Highly placed sources said, “The Shinde faction is likely to approach Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan, informing its decision to distance itself from Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.”Claiming to have 50 plus MLAs in its fold, Shinde camp’s decision to step out of MVA would raise a question on the numbers with Uddhav Thackeray led MVA government, which could find it difficult to prove its majority on the floor of the house if the rebel MLAs were to stick together, the sources added.The development has also sparked worries in the Sena with a senior leader pointing out: “While the Apex court has given two weeks’ time to the rebels to respond to disqualification notices served by deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal, our plea for disallowing floor test till July 11 was not considered.”Shinde camp’s confidence stems from its belief that it holds two-third majority in the Shiv Sena. At present, it is claiming support of 39 MLAs out of total 55 MLAs of the Sena. Besides, there are over 10 MLAs from smaller parties/independents with them. Their total support base has risen to over 50, the Shinde camp has claimed.The total strength of the state legislative assembly is 288 members, which has gone down to 287 with the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month. The halfway mark to form the government is 144.With Congress’s 44, NCP’s 53 and Sena’s 16 legislators, the aggregate strength of the allies stands at 111 — 33 short of the halfway mark. The number of independents/smaller parties adds up to 29 members, of which around 11 are with Shinde camp. Sources say that even if all the remaining 19 were to align with MVA, the figure still won’t cross 130.“Minus Shinde faction, MVA finds itself confronting the battle for survival in Maharashtra,” the source said.Expressing his happiness after the SC order, Shinde said, “It is a victory for Balasaheb’s Hindutva. We have always maintained that we have not walked out of Sena. Our fight is for the self respect of Sena.”Sources in the Shinde faction said, “A lot of deliberations are underway on the next course of action. We are still fighting for the rights to lead the Sena. With majority members with us, Shinde’s leadership in the party’s legislative assembly cannot be divested. We always wanted Sena to walk away from the Congress and the NCP.”Shinde’s son Shrikant alleged that the disqualification notice to his father and 15 MLAs were sent by the deputy speaker under pressure.Meanwhile, the BJP, which convened its core committee meeting at the residence of opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, has decided to adopt “wait and watch” strategy. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, “What is happening is an internal matter of Shiv Sena. We are also closely monitoring the developments.”Another senior leader, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said, “Shinde group is still not considering itself separate from Shiv Sena. At the same time, they have the support of a majority of members. So, we need to see how the situation evolves.”