Opposition parties slams Maharashtra speaker over ‘delay’ in deciding on Sena, NCP disqualification pleas; seeks decision in time frame


NEW DELHI: The opposition parties in Maharashtra – Sharad Pawar-led NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress – on Friday accused assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar of deliberately delaying the decision on the pleas seeking disqualification of rebel Shiv Sena and NCP MLAs, and said he should decide on the matter within a specified timeframe.

The Supreme Court on Friday came down hard on assembly speaker Narwekar for the delay in deciding the plea for disqualification of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and several MLAs, saying the speaker ”cannot defeat the orders” of the top court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said decision on disqualification pleas has to be taken before next assembly elections or the whole process will become infructuous.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Sharad Pawar sought the Supreme Court’s directions to Narwekar to decide on the disqualification pleas of Shiv Sena and NCP MLAs within a specific time frame.

He alleged that there was a delay on the part of the speaker in taking decision on the pleas, and that was why the NCP also approached the apex court.

”Directions should be (given) that the decision should be taken in a specific time frame and it cannot be delayed. That same was the stand of the Shiv Sena,” Pawar said in response to a question after the Supreme Court’s observations.

The SC hearing was attended by NCP leaders Supriya Sule and Jitendra Awhad, he said.

Both the Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar-led NCP want a speedy decision on the disqualification of rebel MLAs of the respective parties.

Referring to the apex court’s observations, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut told reporters in Nashik that the government led by Eknath Shinde and his deputies Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar would collapse in the next 72 hours.

”This government will go in 72 hours. I had said earlier also. Now, the time has come. The assembly speaker put the government in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and tried to save it, but now the time has come for the speaker himself to go to the ICU,” the Rajya Sabha member said.

”The assembly speaker deserves to be reprimanded by the court. He does not take the Constitution seriously. The speaker and his guardians should learn a lesson now. These people just want to save an unconstitutional government as per the orders from Delhi,” he alleged. The speaker gets orders from Delhi and acts accordingly. The court’s observation is a slap on the speaker’s unruly behaviour. He has earned disrespect for the speaker’s post and the Maharashtra government, Raut added.

”The law is equal for all. The decision will be applicable to both the Shiv Sena and NCP. We will also get our expected decision about the illegal decision given by the Election Commission about the party name and symbol,” he alleged. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray said the speaker is expected to not just discharge the role of a speaker, but also act as a tribunal. ”The hope is that he works in a free and fair manner. He has to work in a specific time frame and deliver justice. Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said, accusing him of wasting time.

Talking to PTI, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the Supreme Court has passed another stricture against speaker Rahul Narwekar indicating clearly that he is deliberately delaying a decision on the Shiv Sena split that happened one-and-a-half years ago.

”This is the second time that SC has warned the speaker on violating the Constitution,” he said.

”Unfortunately there is nothing much that the Supreme Court can do. Anti-defection law gives adjudicating powers to the speaker. The speaker belongs to a political party and remains a member of that party. He is bound by the interest of the political party to which he belongs. Thus the 10th schedule of the Constitution which we call the anti-defection law as amended in 2003, is ab initio flawed and needs to be scrapped in toto,” Chavan said.

”Does the CJI have the authority to initiate proceedings against the speaker?”, he asked, and said, ”I wish the Supreme Court utilises its inherent power to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.” The Maharashtra Congress said on ‘X’ that the Supreme Court’s strictures have exposed the ”unconstitutional” state government. On September 18, the top court had directed the Maharashtra assembly speaker to spell out the timeline for adjudication of the disqualification petitions against Shinde and other MLAs.

Narwekar had last month started the process to hear the pleas filed by rival Shiv Sena factions led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray. The first actual hearing of disqualification pleas against Shinde and 15 other MLAs was held at Vidhan Bhavan on Thursday.

Sunil Prabhu from the Thackeray faction, in his capacity as chief whip of the undivided Shiv Sena, had filed the disqualification petitions against Shinde and 15 other MLAs last year after the rebellion and resultant split in the party.

In July this year, Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP MLAs joined the Shinde-led Shiv Sena-BJP government in the state, creating a split in the Sharad Pawar-founded party.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP then moved a petition before Narwekar, seeking disqualification of Ajit Pawar and the MLAs supporting him. Later, the Ajit Pawar group also filed a disqualification plea against the rival camp MLAs.

Source: Press Trust of India

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