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Shreya Varanasi, Pune

The Supreme Court has given the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker, Rahul Narweka,r one week’s time to hear the disqualification pleas against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and other Shiv Sena MLAs. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud gave strict directions to the Speaker and said that the top court has been asking him to do so for four months now. 

“Speaker has to honour dignity of Supreme Court,” said CJI DY Chandrachud while flagging the delay in deciding disqualification petitions of Shiv Sena MLAs. The court’s directive aims to expedite the resolution of these cases which have political implications. The disqualification petitions were filed by both factions of Shiv Sena – Uddhav Thackeray camp and Eknath Shinde camp, against each other. 

On September 18, the Supreme Court bench composed of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra heard on Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Sunil Prabhu’s plea to speed up the Speaker’s decision on the disqualification pleas. In its order, the court instructed the Speaker to schedule the disqualification petitions within a maximum of one week, prepare the case record, and establish a timetable for conducting the hearings and delivering a verdict.

The court said that the Speaker Mr. Narwekar was asked on May 11 to decide on the matter “within a reasonable period” but he has not done much apart from issuing notice to the MLAs. Sunil Prabhu’s petition also alleged that the Speaker Rahul Narwekar was deliberately delaying the hearing and decision. 

The Shiv Sena broke into two factions after Eknath Shinde staged a coup along with several other MLAs in June 2022. The coup was against the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government which was an alliance between the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Indian National Congress. Soon after Thackeray’s resignation, Eknath Shinde became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy. Currently, the apex court has observed that there were a total of 34 petitions filed by both sides against each other asking for disqualification of 56 MLAs.