Uddhav Thackeray camp of Shiv Sena has approached the Supreme Court, saying the Election Commission of India, which ruled that the Eknath Shinde-led faction is the real Shiv Sena, failed to discharge its duty as a neutral arbitrator.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud for an early listing of the Thackeray-led Sena faction’s petition. The CJI, however, refused to pass any order.
“The rule applies equally to all, whether left, right or centre. Come tomorrow through proper process,” the bench said.
The plea, which challenged the order of the Election Commission of India, allotting the party name “Shiv Sena” and the party symbol “Bow and Arrow” to the faction led by Eknath Shinde, has sought an order of status quo, as was existing before the passing of the ECI’s order, to be maintained
The plea has sought direction that in the interregnum, no precipitative action can be taken on the basis of the Impugned Order till the pendency of the present petition. It said the ECI has acted in a manner undermining its constitutional status.
The plea said the ECI has failed to appreciate that the petitioner enjoys overwhelming support in the rank and file of the party.
“The petitioner has an overwhelming majority in the Pratinidhi Sabha which is the apex representative body representing the wishes of the Primary members and other stakeholders of the party. The Pratinidhi Sabha is the apex body recognized under Article VIII of the Party Constitution. The Petitioner enjoys the support of 160 members out of approximately 200 odd members in the Pratinidhi Sabha,” it said.
The petition pointed out that the legislative majority alone in this case could not be the basis for passing the impugned order for several reasons. “Firstly, the legislators who are facing disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule which were initiated much prior to the filing of the para 15 Petition by Respondent No.1. It is well settled that the disqualification relates back to the date when it occurred.
Secondly, the ECI has failed to consider that the petitioner enjoys the majority in the Legislative Council (12 out of 12) and Rajya Sabha (3 out of 3). It is submitted that in a case of this kind where there is a conflict even in the legislative majority i.e., Lok Sabha on one hand and Rajya Sabha on the other as well as Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, more particularly, having regard to the fact that there is a possibility of the alleged members losing their right of membership, the legislative majority alone is not a safe guide to determine as to who holds the majority for the purposes of adjudicating a petition under Para 15 of the Symbols Order.
In these circumstances, it is respectfully submitted that the legislative majority test cannot be the test which can be applied for the purposes of determination of the present dispute.”
The Uddhav Thackeray faction said the ECI has erred in holding that there is a split in the political party. “In para 58-70 of the impugned order, the ECI held that there was a split not only in the legislative wing of Shiv Sena but also in the political party. A bare reading of the Petition filed by Respondent No. 1 under para 15 of the Symbols Order would show that there was no such averment made in the Petition whatsoever and the only averment was made in regard to the split in Legislative Party. In the absence of any pleadings and evidence that there was a split in a political party, the finding of the ECI is completely erroneous on this ground.