A final chance has been given to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar by the Supreme Court to set a realistic timeline for deciding the cross-petitions filed by the rival factions of the Shiv Sena seeking disqualification of each other’s MLAs following a split in the party.
An apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, on Tuesday, granted the final opportunity to Narwekar after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that he would personally engage with the speaker during Dussehra vacation and indicate a firm set of modalities.
The top court said the disqualification petitions have to be adjudicated expeditiously.
“We are not satisfied with the time schedule. SG has apprised that during Dussehra breaks he would personally engage with the speaker so as to indicate a firm set of modalities,” the bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said while posting the matter for hearing on October 30.
The apex court had earlier come down hard on the speaker over the delay in deciding the pleas filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction for the disqualification of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and several MLAs loyal to him, saying the speaker cannot defeat the orders of the top court. Similar disqualification petitions have also been filed by the Shinde bloc against lawmakers owing allegiance to Thackeray.
Earlier on October 13, a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Speaker Rahul Narwekar, to apprise it about the timeline for deciding the petitions on Tuesday, saying it will pass a “peremptory order” if it is not satisfied.
“Somebody has to advise the (assembly) speaker. He cannot defeat the orders of the Supreme Court. What kind of time schedule he is prescribing?…This (disqualification proceedings) is a summary procedure. Last time, we thought, better sense will prevail and had asked him to lay down a time schedule…,” said the bench.
A visibly irked CJI said a decision on disqualification pleas has to be taken before the next assembly elections or the whole process will become infructuous. The next state assembly polls will likely be held around September-October 2024.