Ndtv | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 12:10 am
At least five MLAs from the Aurangabad district are camping with Eknath Shinde in Guwahati.(FILE)Aurangabad: Police stepped up security at the residences of Shiv Sena ministers Abdul Sattar and Sandipan Bhumre in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city who are camping with their party colleague and rebel leader Eknath Shinde in Guwahati, in view of a protest held on Wednesday.The MLA from the Sillod constituency, Abdul Sattar, is a Minister of State for Revenue in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government. Mr Bhumre, the MLA from the Paithan constituency, holds the EGS portfolio.Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena workers staged a protest in Kranti Chowk area of the city demanding action against rebel Shiv Sena MLAs camping in Guwahati."Considering the situation, we have increased security at the residences of Mr Bhumre and Mr Sattar," a senior police officer told PTI.At least five MLAs from the Aurangabad district are camping with Mr Shinde in Guwahati.Shiv Sena spokesperson and MLC Ambadas Danve said people have faith in the leadership of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray."We stand with Uddhav Thackeray. We are against those who leave the party," he said at the spot of the agitation held at Kranti Chowk in Aurangabad city.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comA woman Sena worker demanded that Mr Thackeray sack rebels from the party.(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.”
Dismissing the appeal by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri who was killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots, against the Special Investigation Team clean chit to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others over allegations of conspiracy in the riots, the Supreme Court, in its judgment three days ago, referred to proceedings being pursued to “keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and said “all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.The bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar underlined that “materials collected during the investigation do not give rise to strong or grave suspicion regarding hatching of larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level for causing mass violence across the State against the minority community and more so, indicating involvement of the named offenders and their meeting of minds at some level in that regard”.Yet it was the Supreme Court which, through hearings and orders over the years, called for “fair and impartial investigation” into the riots cases. Two cases — of the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano — were moved out of Gujarat to Maharashtra.At one point, the top court even expunged remarks of the Gujarat High Court against activist Teesta Setalvad and others – Setalvad was arrested last Saturday by the Gujarat police, a day after Zakia Jafri’s petition was dismissed.◙ On April 12, 2004, while ordering retrial in the Vadodara Best Bakery case after 21 accused were acquitted, the bench of Justices Doraiswamy Raju and Arijit Pasayat said, “Those who are responsible for protecting life and properties and ensuring that investigation is fair and proper seem to have shown no real anxiety. Large number of people had lost their lives. Whether the accused persons were really assailants or not could have been established by a fair and impartial investigation. The modern day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected. Law and justice become flies in the hands of these ‘wanton boys’.”On the investigation and the trial court that ordered the acquittals, the judges said, “One gets a feeling that the justice delivery system was being taken for a ride and literally allowed to be abused, misused and mutilated by subterfuge. The investigation appears to be perfunctory and anything but impartial without any definite object of finding out the truth and bringing to book those who were responsible for the crime. The public prosecutor appears to have acted more as a defence counsel than one whose duty was to present the truth before the Court. The Court in turn appeared to be a silent spectator, mute to the manipulations and preferred to be indifferent to sacrilege being committed to justice. The role of the State Government also leaves much to be desired.”Hearing another petition the same day by Teesta Setalvad and others, the two judges expunged remarks made by the Gujarat High Court against her and the others: “Observations should not be made by Courts against persons and authorities, unless they are essential or necessary for decision of the case… There is no need or justification for any unwarranted besmirching of either the parties or their causes, as a matter of routine. Courts are not expected to play to the gallery or for any applause…”◙ Earlier, on September 19, 2003, when the then Chief Secretary PK Laheri and DGP K Chakravarthi were summoned, the bench of Chief Justice of India VN Khare, Justices Brijesh Kumar and S B Sinha asked Chakravarthi what steps he took when he learnt that witnesses were turning hostile. Chakravarthi said, “I did ask the Police Commissioner why they turned hostile. Answer is they appear to have been won over. I have made enquiry from the Police Commissioner who told me that these witnesses appear to have been won over by the accused.”Asked why he had not taken steps for their re-examination, Chakravarthi said, “I came to know at a much later date.”At this, Justice Sinha asked: “Do you mean to say that you asked the Police Commissioner only after the judgment of acquittal was passed?”. Chakravarthi said, “I do not remember the exact date. I did not take any steps even after coming to know that witnesses have been won over by the accused.”Chakravarthi died in 2020.◙ On November 21, 2003, the bench of CJI V N Khare, Justices S B Sinha and A R Lakshmanan stayed trial in 10 major riot cases on petitions seeking an independent investigation into the cases besides shifting of trials outside Gujarat.◙ On August 17, 2004, the bench of Justices Ruma Pal, S B Sinha and S H Kapadia directed that a riot cell be formed under the DGP to reopen cases closed by local police stations, and file quarterly reports.Stating that it would not proceed on the basis “that the entire investigating machinery in the State has failed”, the bench said “there should be further/more extensive and in-depth investigation into cases, numbering 2000, in which ‘A’ Summary Reports have been filed resulting in closure of cases at the threshold and that the State should consider further/extended investigations through its own high ranking officers to which none of the concerned parties (including State of Gujarat) had any objection”.In its order, the bench said, “The Non-Governmental Organizations which have been participating in this entire process, will be at liberty to draw the attention of the Range Inspector General to any particular case within the District of a particular Range Inspector General and the Range Inspector General will consider the same before deciding whether further/fresh investigation or what action, if any, needs to be taken in connection with the FIRs filed. The Range Inspector General shall see whether the FIRs already filed are defective/deficient or faulty in any manner.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox◙ On March 26, 2008, the bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam said, “Communal harmony is the hallmark of a democracy. No religion teaches hatred. If in the name of religion, people are killed, that is essentially a slur and blot on the society governed by rule of law… Religious fanatics really do not belong to any religion. They are no better than terrorists… These are cases where there is an element of communal disharmony, which is not to be countenanced. The State of Gujarat has stated that it has no objection if further investigation is done so that peoples’ faith on the transparency of action taken by the State is fortified”.The Court called for a report in three months on investigations into the cases of the Godhra train burning, the killings in Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad, Sardarpura and Dipda Darwaja in Mehsana district, two cases in Ode of Anand district and the killing of British nationals in Prantij, Sabarkantha district.The Court asked the Gujarat government to issue a notification to appoint the SIT headed by RK Raghavan, retired Director of CBI.
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.”
Mumbai: The state government informed the Bombay high court on Monday that it will not arrest actor Ketaki Chitale in 21 of 22 FIRs filed against her over her sharing of a post allegedly derogatory to NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Her quashing plea will be heard on July 12 along with a similar petition by Nashik student Nikhil Bhamare in connection with an FIR against him for his tweet against the veteran politician.More than a month after her May 14 arrest, Chitale was granted bail on June 22 by a Thane sessions court in an FIR filed at Kalwa police station for her post. She was released the following day. The actor is facing 22 FIRs and 4 non-cognizable offences in Maharashtra over her post. The FIRs invoked section 153A of IPC for the offence of promoting enmity on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth and residence.In the HC, her advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay argued that in the remaining 21 FIRs, which are not maintainable, her arrest ought to be stayed.The HC asked public prosecutor Aruna Pai if she would make a statement on not arresting Chitale. After seeking instructions from the DGP, Pai made the statement, following which the HC posted the quashing plea for further hearing in July. Chitale had also sought HC orders to declare her arrest “illegal” and in “breach of law”.
MUMBAI: A week after the revolt began for control of Shiv Sena, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray on Monday stripped all nine ministers from rebel leader Eknath Shinde's camp of their portfolios. They will remain ministers but without portfolios. By now, of the 14 ministers in the Thackeray-led government, only four including the chief minister, are from Shiv Sena. The others are industries minister Subhash Desai, transport minister Anil Parab and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. They have all got additional portfolios. Monday's Supreme Court verdict protecting the rebel Sena MLAs from disqualification proceedings till July 12 led to speculation about whether a floor test is imminent. "The government is in a minority. The chief minister should leave the MVA government and join BJP. Then there will be no need for a floor test," rebel MLA Deepak Kesarkar said. Sena's Aaditya Thackeray countered, "The rebels should come here, look into our eyes and tell us what we did wrong. That is our floor test." Congress member Balasaheb Thorat said, "No one has asked for a floor test. The CM has said 20 MLAs who are in Guwahati will back the government in the event of a trust vote." BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar said the party will "wait and watch" and would consider such a proposal when it came. The cabinet reshuffle was prompted by concerns about work being held up. Also, by the onset of monsoon and the possibility of flooding or accidents, a press statement from Thackeray's office said. Under rule 6 of the rules of business, the chief minister has powers to re-allocate portfolio of a cabinet minister if he is not attending office since he is unwell or is not able to discharge duties. This is done to ensure works of public interest as well as routine work are not affected. Read AlsoEight ways to lose your political partyWhen politicians lose an election, they stand a chance of bouncing back in the next one. But what happens when they lose their party? It was initially decided to sack all nine rebel members, a bureaucrat said. But the Sena leadership dropped the proposal and decided to strip them of their portfolios. Meanwhile, rebel MLA Shamburaje Desai, who lost his junior minister portfolio, said, "We had no rights as junior ministers. The position was only in name. We were not able to get funds for our constituencies." Read AlsoDid Uddhav hear what BJP said about Shinde last summer?The Shiv Sena was casual about numerous signs of discontent brewing in the party. Was it over-confidence or power lulling a party into laziness?Security of Guwahati hotel housing rebel Sena MLAs tightened furtherSecurity inside and outside Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati, where rebel Shiv Sena MLAs are camping, was upgraded to an impenetrable level on Monday, a day after the Centre provided Y+ category security cover of armed CRPF personnel to at least 15 of them, reports Prabin Kalita. Apart from a few top officers of Assam Police, a group of advocates were the only civilians allowed entry inside the hotel on Monday. In addition, crew members of several airlines that have agreements with the hotel were also allowed inside. Read AlsoWho owns brand Bal Thackeray: Saininks or the Thackerays?The rebel Shiv Sainiks led by Eknath Shinde have decided to call themselves Shiv Sena Balasaheb. This has opened a new front in their battle with Uddhav Thackeray – a brand warThe president of Shiv Sena unit in Manipur, M Tombi Singh, who had come to meet the rebel legislators, was stopped at the gates and then arrested after he was spotted talking to media outside the hotel gates. “I’ve come to talk to Eknath Shinde and tell him not to divide the party. Sena should remain as one party and we want the political crisis to end soon,” he said.