As the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will start hearing on February 14 on pleas filed by rival Shiv Sena factions, Opposition leader in Maharashtra Ajit Pawar maintained there will be ‘tarikh par tarikh’ (dates after dates), indicating a prolonged legal battle over the matter.
He said the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), an ally of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, is doing the job of presenting the case through its lawyers in the apex court.
The SC said it will commence hearing on February 14 on pleas related to the Maharashtra political crisis triggered by the Shiv Sena’s division in June last year.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction that he will seek reference of the cases to a seven-judge bench to have a re-look of a 2016 judgment on powers of assembly speakers to deal with disqualification pleas.
Reacting to the development in the top court, NCP leader Pawar told reporters, “Tarikh par tarikh hone wali hain (there will be dates after dates for hearing). It is their (court’s) right. Can anyone ask the judiciary (about this)?” The former cabinet minister said the Shiv Sena (UBT) is doing the job of presenting its case through lawyers and it is the apex court’s prerogative to decide the date of hearing and when to deliver judgement. “It is totally their (SC) right. We are also seeing that it’s been six months (since the revolt in Shiv Sena) and dates (for hearing) are being given. Now, they have given the next date as February 14,” said the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said since the date of hearing happens to be on February 14 (celebrated as Valentine’s Day), “Everything will happen with love.” “From February 14, the Constitution bench will hear the matter without any break. This is very important for us,” he told reporters.
Maharashtra faced a political crisis in June last year after a section of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, who is now chief minister, revolted against the party leadership, triggering the collapse of the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government which also consisted of the Congress and the NCP.
The revolt led to a division in the Shiv Sena with one faction headed by former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and the other by Shinde. They later filed pleas against each other in the apex court.
On August 23, a three-judge SC bench headed by then-Chief Justice N V Ramana, since retired, had formulated several questions of law and referred to a five-judge bench the petitions filed by the factions raising several constitutional questions related to defection, merger and disqualification.