Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu to SC

A day ahead of the Supreme Court’s crucial hearing on the Maharashtra political crisis, the chief whip of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction, Sunil Prabhu, told the top court that the rebel group is “not entitled to any relief”.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, Prabhu said that Eknath Shinde was “lured by the prospect of becoming the Chief Minister with the support of the BJP”, adding that the allegations levelled by the rebel group are “completely vague, bald, mischievous”.

“…this Hon’ble Court ought to itself decide the question of disqualification since the cumulative effect of the action/conduct of Eknath Shinde and the other delinquent MLAs, more particularly of him bringing down the MVA government led by Shiv Sena, lured by the prospect of becoming the Chief Minister with the support of the BJP, leaves no manner of doubt that the delinquent MLAs have incurred disqualification under the Tenth Schedule,” the affidavit stated.

The Supreme Court will on Monday hear a bunch of petitions from both groups.

The top court had earlier this week agreed to hear on Monday (July 11) a fresh plea of the Uddhav faction challenging the decision of the newly-elected Speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly to recognise the new party whip of Shiv Sena rebels led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. This plea challenging the Speaker’s decision was filed by Prabhu.

Last week, the Maharashtra assembly elected BJP MLA Rahul Narvekar as the Speaker. A letter issued by the office of Speaker reinstated Eknath Shinde – the man whose rebellion brought down the Uddhav government – as the Shiv Sena’s legislative party leader and also recognised the appointment of Bharat Gogawale from the Shinde camp as the chief whip of the Sena, removing Sunil Prabhu.

On July 1, the top court had agreed to hear on July 11 the plea of Prabhu seeking suspension from the assembly of Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.

The vacation bench of the court had on June 27 granted interim relief to the Shinde faction by extending the time for replying to the disqualification notices sent to 16 rebel Sena MLAs till July 12. On June 29, the Maharashtra governor ordered a floor test leading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to rush to the top court seeking its deferment.

The bench refused to stay the direction of the Governor to the 31-month-old MVA government to take a floor test in the Assembly to prove its majority following which Uddhav resigned.

After Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, Prabhu moved to the top court seeking his suspension and of 15 rebels on various grounds, alleging that they are acting as pawns of the BJP, thereby committing the constitutional sin of defection.

(With PTI inputs)

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