SC agrees to hear Uddhav’s plea to stop Shinde camp from being taken over

New Delhi: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear Uddhav Thackeray’s request to stop the group led by Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde from taking over Shiv Sena’s properties and bank accounts. This comes after the Election Commission of India (ECI) decided last week that the Shinde-led group would get the party’s name and bow-and-arrow symbol.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud agreed to Thackeray’s request for an urgent hearing because the ECI’s decision could damage the party’s properties and finances in ways that can’t be fixed.

Thackeray’s lawyer, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, brought up the issue before the CJI. He said that the polling body’s decision in favour of the faction led by chief minister Shinde is based on the legislative strength in the House, which, according to Sibal, is one of the main points being argued before a Constitution bench.

“They will take over everything if this (ECI judgement) isn’t put on hold. They have already taken over the office (the party office in the state legislative assembly), and now they will take over the bank accounts. This will be followed by more disqualifications. “Please bring it up again tomorrow so that protective orders can be made,” Sibal pleaded.

Even though the CJI agreed to put the case on the list for Wednesday at 3.30 p.m., senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, who was representing the Shinde faction, objected to Thackeray’s request right away. “Our argument is that this shouldn’t be brought up in the Supreme Court in the first place. “They have gone to the (Delhi) high court twice against the previous orders of the Election Commission,” Kaul said.

At this point, justice Chandrachud told the lawyers that the judges on the bench would like to spend a lot of time looking over the petition before taking it up on Wednesday afternoon, after the Constitution bench has finished its work. The Constitution bench is making decisions on a number of legal issues that came up after Uddhav Thackeray’s government fell apart and Shinde became the new chief minister of the state in June 2022.

Thackeray went to the Supreme Court on Monday to challenge the ECI order, since CM Shinde’s camp had taken over the Shiv Sena office in the state legislative assembly.

In his petition, Thackeray said that ECI had not handled the fight between the two groups in a fair way. He said that the ECI order was directly related to a group of petitions that the Supreme Court was considering at the time. On Monday, the petition was brought up for early listing, but the court didn’t make an order.

On Monday afternoon, Thackeray also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is Shinde’s partner in the current Maharashtra government. He said that after the EC’s decision was announced last week, political leaders from all over the country had called him. “They took everything from me. “Our party’s name and symbol have been stolen, but nobody can take the name Thackeray,” Uddhav said at Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar, Mumbai.

On Monday morning, Sena lawmakers took over the office of the party in the assembly. The Uddhav faction owned the building until Friday. Since ECI has recognised us as the Shiv Sena, this office is now ours, said Bharat Gogawale, the Sena’s chief whip.

Last Friday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) ruled that Shinde’s faction will keep the original party’s name and symbol. This ended an eight-month fight between Shinde and Uddhav over control of the regional party, which split in two last year when Shinde and 39 other legislators left the party led by Uddhav and joined the BJP to form the government.

ECI did what a Supreme Court ruling from 1971 said to do, which is to use a “triple test” to decide these kinds of cases. ECI found that the first two benchmarks did not lead to a clear answer.

The first test, about the goals of the party’s constitution, was thrown out because the Shiv Sena’s 2018 constitution was found to be undemocratic and give too much power to a few people.

The second test, which was based on who had the most votes in the party’s governing body, was also not taken into account because neither side gave accurate information about how the internal bodies were made up. As a result, the poll panel could not come to any clear or satisfactory conclusions.

So, ECI used the third part, which was the test of majority in the legislative wing. Here, the polling body found that 40 of the 55 members of the legislative assembly supported the Shinde faction. This was equal to 76% of the votes that the unified party got in the 2019 assembly elections. In addition, 13 of the party’s 18 Lok Sabha members voted for Shinde, which was 73% of all votes cast in the 2019 general elections.

In his petition, Thackeray said that this was not true.

He said that the Sena’s constitution made the Pratinidhi Sabha the most important party body, and that 160 of the 200 members of the Pratinidhi Sabha agreed with him. “The Election Commission has failed to do its job as a neutral arbiter of disputes under Paragraph 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, and has acted in a way that undermines its constitutional status,” said the appeal filed by lawyer Amit Anand Tiwari and settled by senior lawyer Devadatt Kamat.

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