Maharashtra Legislature Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat has issued showcause notices to 53 MLAs of the Shiv Sena, PTI reported on Sunday.

Forty of the notices have been sent to the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the other 13 belong to the Uddhav Thackeray group. MLA Santosh Bangar had supported the Shinde faction in the floor test held in the Assembly on July 4. With this, the strength of Shinde’s group went up from the 39 rebel MLAs to 40 members.

All the 53 legislators have confirmed receiving the showcause notices, according to PTI.

The notices have been sent under the Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (disqualification on grounds of defection) Rules after both camps accused each other of defying the party whip during the election to appoint a speaker on July 3 and the trust vote held on July 4.

The MLAs have been asked to reply to the notices within seven days.

Shinde faction’s Bharatsheth Gogawale had issued a whip to all the Shiv Sena MLAs, directing them to vote in favour of the motion in the trust vote, The Times of India reported. Meanwhile, the Thackeray-led faction’s whip Sunil Prabhu directed to vote against it.

Both the groups have sought the disqualification of legislators from the rival faction. The Shinde-led group, however, has not sought the disqualification of Aaditya Thackeray, the son of Maharashtra’s former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

On July 4, Shinde won the floor test after he got 164 votes in his support, significantly above the majority mark of 145. Ninety-nine MLAs voted against him.

On July 3, the newly-elected Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar had appointed Gogavale as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena. Prabhu, who belongs to the Thackeray faction, was the chief whip earlier.

Thackeray has moved the Supreme Court challenging the appointment of Gogavale as the new whip. His petition states that a speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise whips.

The role of a chief whip is crucial in legislative proceedings as elected representatives of a party are bound to follow their orders in the event of a trust vote. Defying the orders of the chief whip might lead to disqualification of MPs and MLAs.

Shinde was earlier the leader of the Shiv Sena’s Legislative Party. But, he was removed from the post last month after he revolted against Thackeray. Shinde had claimed the support of 39 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs and 10 Independent legislators, reducing the Thackeray-led faction of the party to a minority in the Assembly.

The rebel MLAs were demanding that Thackeray should sever his ties with the Maha Vikas Aghadi government partners – the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

The revolt pushed the state into a crisis. Subsequently, the Bharatiya Janata Party asked Thackeray to face a vote of confidence.

On June 29, Thackeray resigned after the Supreme Court rejected the Shiv Sena’s plea against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking his government to face a floor test. The next day, Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis took oath as his deputy.