Monday, December 5, 2022

Can Deputy Speaker be judge of his own court?: SC

Maharashtra assembly Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal.

Acting on Eknath Shinde’s petition challenging the disqualification notices issued to him and 15 other rebel MLAs last week, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu, leader of Legislature party Anil Chaudhary and the Centre. The top court will now hear the matter on July 11.

The Supreme Court also extended the deadline given to the rebel MLAs to file their responses to the disqualification notices till July 11.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court asked the rebels’ lawyer why they did not approach the Bombay High Court first. To this, advocate NK Kaul replied that the rebels’ houses and properties are being threatened, and the situation is not conducive for them to pursue their rights in Bombay.

Appearing for the Sena leadership, Abhishek Singhvi said no reason was given by the Shinde camp on why they did not approach the high court first. Referring to past judgments of the Supreme court, he said the Deputy Speaker has the right to take a decision on the disqualification notices of rebel MLAs. A judicial review cannot take place when the proceedings in the Assembly are pending, he said.

The Maharashtra government informed the Supreme Court that immediate steps will be taken to provide adequate security to the MLAs who have been served disqualification notices.

Responding to the rebels’ argument that Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal cannot decide on MLAs’ disqualification notices when a no trust vote is pending against him, his counsel Rajeev Dhawan said the no trust motion was rejected as it was sent via an unverified email address.

Replying to this argument, Justice Surya Kant asked, “If Deputy Speaker is saying that he is rejecting the motion that seeks his removal, the question is can the Deputy Speaker be the Judge of his own court?”

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has stripped nine rebel ministers of their portfolios. “The portfolios of the rebel ministers were being handed over to other ministers for ease of administration,” an official statement said.

Reports suggest that Eknath Shinde, leading the rebellion against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, spoke to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray twice and discussed the “recent political situation” in the state. Mr Shinde’s supporters have organised a show of strength in Thane today.

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