The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to not take any decision on disqualifying Shiv Sena MLAs, PTI reported.

Maharashtra Legislature Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat has issued showcause notices to 53 Shiv Sena MLAs. 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.

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.

The Supreme Court issued the directions on Monday as senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the petitions filed in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis, Live Law reported.

The crisis started when Shinde and several other MLAs of Thackeray’s party rebelled against the Maha Vikas Aghadi – a coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, and Congress – government in June. Subsequently, the coalition was ousted from power.

Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra on June 30, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as his deputy. On July 4, Shinde won a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. He got 164 votes in his support, significantly above the majority mark of 145, while 99 MLAs voted against him.

Two petitions have been filed by Thackeray in the court after the government was overthrown.

He has challenged the Assembly proceedings during the floor test, arguing that 16 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification proceedings are pending should not have voted.

Thackeray has also challenged Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision to invite rebel Shinde to form the government in Maharashtra in June.

After the Supreme Court on July 8 listed the case for hearing, Thackeray had said that the verdict will not just decide the future of Shiv Sena, but Indian democracy. He added that according to constitutional experts, there can be a split in a legislature party, but the original party cannot be terminated.

Sibal on Monday asked for an urgent listing of the petitions, Live Law reported. However, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that listing will take time as the bench needed to be finalised.

Maharashtra political crisis

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

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

On June 29, Thackeray resigned after the Supreme Court rejected the Shiv Sena’s plea against the governor’s decision asking his government to face a floor test.