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Sena vs. Sena: The Supreme Court will decide today whether to send the case to a 7-judge bench.

On Friday, the Supreme Court will rule on the request to send its 2016 decision in the Nabam Rebia vs. Deputy Speaker case back to a larger bench for a second look.

On Thursday, a five-judge Constitution bench led by the Chief Justice of India, D. Y. Chandrachud, put off making a decision on a plea that comes from petitions about what happened in Maharashtra last year. This came up because of disagreements within the Shiv Sena between groups that supported Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and those that supported Uddhav Thackeray, Shinde’s predecessor.

In the Nabam Rebia decision, the Supreme Court said that the Speaker of a House cannot decide a petition for disqualification filed under the anti-defection law while a notice under Article 179(c) for the Speaker’s removal is pending.

The Thackeray camp argued against this. They told the bench, which also included Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha, that MLAs who want to defect can stop disqualification proceedings against them by sending a notice asking the Speaker to be removed.

When the crisis started in June of last year, the Shinde group used the ruling to say that the Deputy Speaker couldn’t use the Tenth Schedule against the dissident Sena MLAs because a notice to remove him was still pending.

This week, at the hearing before the Constitution bench, Shinde’s side said that the case was no longer important and that there was no reason to send it to a bigger bench.

Senior lawyers for Thackeray, Kapil Sibal and A.M. Singhvi, asked the court to send the case to a seven-judge bench.

Sibal said that the issue was not over and that it was still important for the future of democracy in the country. “This has nothing to do with today. He said, “This is about tomorrow.” “Don’t make the problem go away by saying it doesn’t exist. It will happen over and over again. There will be overthrows of elected governments. And no democracy anywhere in the world would let this happen…”

Singhvi said that the court shouldn’t make a difference between the Rebia case and the Sena case. “Identifying Nabam Rebia will lead to more lawsuits in the future than it will solve any problems. In a simple way, this Court either agrees or sends it back,” he said.

Senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, who was on Shinde’s side, brought up last year’s events that led to Thackeray stepping down as CM. He said that the SC had said at the time that the Governor’s order to hold a floor test would not affect the Speaker’s ability to decide if someone was disqualified. But Thackeray quit before the floor test because he knew he didn’t have enough votes. Jethmalani argued that the Speaker had no reason not to use his power to disqualify Thackeray because of this.

During the hearing, the CJI said that the issue raises “hard constitutional questions on both counts.”

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