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Hearing underway in Supreme Court on plea filed by Shiv Sena challenging floor test in Maharashtra Assembly

ANI | Updated: Jun 29, 2022 19:05 IST

New Delhi [India], June 29 (ANI): The Supreme Court has started hearing the plea filed by Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's direction to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to hold the floor test on Thursday.
Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Prabhu mentioned the plea before a vacation bench headed by Justice Surya Kant and said, "I have 4 or 5 points. Will be brief."
Singhvi said, "The letter which tells us about the floor test is dated June 28. Yesterday evening, the Leader of Opposition met the Governor. Media reports mentioned it was at 10 pm. Today, when we mentioned the matter, we received information about the floor test at 11 am tomorrow. Currently, two of the NCP MLAs are down with Covid and two Congress MLAs are abroad." He said the supersonic speed of the floor test left us with no time to call MLAs."
Singhvi said, "These people left from Maharashtra and went to Guwahati and on their way, they sent an email from an unverified account that we have no confidence in the Speaker. They have clearly walked across and hobnobbed with the Opposition."
He asked, "After meeting the Leader of Opposition, how can the Governor call for a floor test without verification of the situation."
"The court must not allow a floor test to be held till the deputy Speaker decides on the disqualification petition against rebel MLAs," Singhvi told the Apex Court.
Citing the Uttarakhand Harish Rawat case, senior advocate AM Singhvi said, "A floor test was directed, but the disqualification decision was taken by the Speaker before the floor test. One day before the floor test, the President's Rule was imposed."
He also cited the Shivraj Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh) case where an "artificial majority was sought to be created by engineering resignations."
Sunil Prabhu's lawyer told Supreme Court about a letter which tells us about the floor test. He said that on June 28, Opposition leaders met Governor and today morning, we received intimation about a floor test that is scheduled to be held tomorrow. Two NCP members are down with COVID and one Congress MLA is out of the country, he said.
He said, "There is the supersonic speed for the floor test. The floor test determines which government represents the will of the people. A floor test is supposed to find out the true majority. A true majority will include those eligible to be included."
Sunil Prabhu's lawyer submitted that the voting (in floor test) should not take place before the Speaker's decision. After his decision, the number of the members of the House will change.

Supreme Court Bench, in response to Prabhu, said, "The disqualification case is pending before us, we will decide whether the notice is valid or not. But how is this affecting the floor test?"
As the political turmoil in Maharashtra continues to unfold, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis accompanied by 8 independent MLAs on Tuesday submitted a letter to the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and demanded an immediate floor test.
"We have given a letter to the Maharashtra Governor demanding an immediate floor test," Devendra Fadnavis said.
Sources earlier today also learned that eight independent MLAs have sent an email to the registered email address of the Maharashtra Governor demanding for an immediate floor test. It is being reportedly said that Fadnavis will further demand a meeting with the Governor.
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday appealed to the rebel MLAs to come for talks. "Don't fall prey to anyone's missteps. The honour given to you by Shiv Sena cannot be found anywhere. If you come forward and speak, we will sort out the issues. As Shiv Sena party chief and family head, I am still worried about you. Come here for a dialogue," he said.
Meanwhile, rebel leader Eknath Shinde stated that he will return to Mumbai soon and that his faction was taking "Balasaheb's Shiv Sena forward". Shinde has claimed the support of over 50 MLAs.
In a jolt to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, senior Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde and other rebel MLAs revolted against the party on June 20 and camped in Gujarat's Surat. Later, the rebel MLAs shifted base to a hotel in Guwahati.
"10 people attacked a Shiv Sainik. His condition is fine. It is because of such Shiv Sainiks that our party is standing high. The person who got elected on a Shiv Sena ticket and is sitting in Guwahati got our Shiv Sainik attacked through his supporters," Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
The rebellion was triggered by a large section of Shiv Sena MLAs, who are currently camping in Assam.
The political tussle in Maharashtra between Shiv Sena and the rebel group led by Eknath Shinde has now reached the Supreme Court. The pleas filed by the breakaway camp challenge the disqualification proceedings against Shinde and 15 other rebel MLAs.
On Monday, a separate plea was filed by Shinde in the top court regarding the safety of the legislators who have challenged party chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. A bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala heard the pleas on Monday.
"This is the win of the Hindutva of Balasaheb Thackeray and the ideas of Anand Dighe," Eknath Shinde tweeted after the Supreme Court deferred the disqualification proceedings of rebel MLAs till July 11.
Earlier, two MLAs, on June 26, called for the removal of the Maharashtra Deputy Speaker, who could be the key decision-maker about the disqualification of the rebel MLAs. Mahesh Baldi and Vinod Agarwal, both independent MLAs and said to be close to the BJP, have moved for the removal of Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, who is from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Independent MLA Mahesh Baldi from Uran assembly constituency reached Vidhan Bhavan today and submitted a letter to the office Deputy speaker saying that he cannot disqualify the 12 MLAs.
In his letter, he has cited several judgements of the Supreme Court. "The entire Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government doesn't have the majority and they can't disqualify any MLA. I am against Congress and NCP and if the MLAs are disqualified, we will also go to the Court," he said.
Notably, the Maharashtra assembly doesn't have a Speaker since February 2021. Also, the Deputy Speaker also approved the appointment of Ajay Chaudhary as leader of the ruling party Shiv Sena in the assembly in place of Eknath Shinde. Eknath Shinde has called the appointment illegal as Chaudhary's name was proposed by the "minority faction" as he represents the "real Sena".
Shinde, who has been replaced by Ajay Chaudhary as Shiv Sena's legislature party leader on Friday, is currently camping with over 40 rebel MLAs in Guwahati. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today wrote to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and urged them to return to Mumbai and talk to him.
Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde today declared that he will go to Mumbai and "take Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy forward" as he spoke to reporters outside a hotel in Guwahati where he and other rebels have been staying for a week. Eknath Shinde, the leader of a staggering coup against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, claims that he has the backing of around 50 MLAs, nearly 40 from the Shiv Sena. (ANI)