While hearing a writ petition filed by Sunil Prabhu (member of Uddhav Thackeray faction) where he was seeking an expeditious decision by the Speaker, the apex Court said that the Speaker should decide on the matter before the next Lok Sabha elections and should not render the issue unfruitful by delaying it.
The Supreme Court on 13th October, Friday criticised the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly as he laid down a long schedule for hearing the disqualification petitions which were filed by the Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, representing opposite factions of Shiv Sena, against each other under the anti-defection law which is enshrined in the tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
While hearing a writ petition filed by Sunil Prabhu who represented the Uddhav Thackeray faction, where he was seeking an expeditious decision by the Speaker, the apex Court said that the Speaker should decide on the matter before the next Lok Sabha elections and should not render the issue unfruitful by delaying it.
The Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly
On the previous hearing date i.e. 18th September, 2023, the Court had expressed dissatisfaction with the Speaker as he had kept the disqualification petitions pending since July, 2022 and thus the court asked him to lay down a schedule for hearing.
Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Uddhav Thackarey faction, today said that the Speaker has now framed a schedule for hearing for one year. The Speaker has now laid down a detailed timeline for cross-examination and recording of evidence. To this, Sibal wondered whether the procedure was a civil suit. He said that the proceedings under the tenth schedule of the Indian Constitution are supposed to be summary in nature.
Sibal told a bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra that this case was becoming a farce. This bench was hearing the batch of petitions which seeked direction to the Maharashtra Speaker to expeditiously decide on the disqualification petitions pending against rebel MLAs.
The CJI conveyed the bench’s displeasure regarding the Speaker’s conduct to Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India.
The CJI told the Solicitor that somebody had to advise the Speaker as he cannot defeat the orders of the Supreme Court. He questioned the kind of time schedule the Speaker was prescribing as the said procedure is summary in nature. Last time, the bench had thought that better sense would prevail and they asked the Speaker to lay down a schedule. He clarified that the idea of laying down the schedule was not to indefinitely delay the hearing.
The SG questioned if the Supreme court can interfere with the day-to-day working of the tribunal as the speaker exercising his powers under the tenth schedule is a tribunal, to which the CJI asserted that as a Tribunal, the Speaker is certainly amenable to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.
Objections from the Shinde Group
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Shinde group, raised objections to the Court passing the directions to the Speaker to decide. In response, the bench reiterated that the Court can put the Speaker to account if he is delaying a decision in spite of the direction of the Court.
Ultimately, the bench adjourned the hearing till 17th October and also asked the Speaker to give a hearing schedule.
Previously, the bench had noted that thirty four petitions filed by both the sides against each other are pending where they are seeking the disqualification of fifty six MLAs.
Also listed along with the Shiv Sena matter was a writ petition filed by Jayant Patil was listed along with the Shiv Sena matter for an expeditious decision by the Speaker against Ajit Pawar’s faction. The court stated that both the matters will be considered next Tuesday.