Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has urged the Supreme Court to dismiss all the petitions filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction and allow the Election Commission to decide on the real Shiv Sena, NDTV reported on Sunday.
A legal battle is underway between the groups led by Thackeray and Shinde to be recognised as the real Shiv Sena. The Thackeray-led faction has filed six petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the governor’s act of administering the oath of office to Shinde and questioning the election of the Maharashtra Speaker, among other things.
On July 22, the Election Commission directed Thackeray and Shinde to submit documents to prove that their faction of the Shiv Sena has the support of the majority of the party members. The Thackeray-led group has challenged the Election Commission proceedings in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear all petitions related to the matter on August 3.
On Sunday, Shinde in his counter-affidavit told the court that his group already has a majority in the party, NDTV reported.
“A group of 15 MLAs cannot call a group of 39 as rebels,” he argued. “It is in fact the other way around.”
Thackeray resigned as the chief minister a day before the trust vote, and so, all his pleas are invalid, Shinde said.
On July 4, Shinde won a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. He got 164 votes in his support.
“The governor’s orders were right and taken to find a stable majority in the House,” Shinde said. “Governor has absolute immunity under the laws and is beyond the jurisdiction of the court.”
Defending the election of a new Maharashtra Speaker by his faction, Shinde said that numbers are “the underlying basis for testing the validity or invalidity of any action in a parliamentary form of democracy”, NDTV reported.
He added, “A chief minister who has lost the confidence of his own party should not continue in office. An anti-democratic and minority government should not be allowed to continue illegally in office.”
He also told the court that accepting the Thackeray group’s arguments would result in a “minority tyranny within the House”, Live Law reported.
“The appointment of a chief minister by the honourable governor, who subsequently proved his majority through a completely valid floor test on the floor of the House, cannot be called into question before any court,” his plea stated.
Split in the Shiv Sena
Chaos had ensued in the Shiv Sena in June after Shinde and a group of party MLAs rebelled against the former Maharashtra government – a coalition of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.
After more than a week of political drama, the coalition was ousted from power as the Thackeray faction was reduced to a minority in the state Assembly. 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.