India’s Supreme Court on Thursday (May 11) refused to grant relief to the Uddhav Thackeray camp in the former Shiv Sena chief’s fight against Eknath Shinde, the current chief minister of the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Shinde was once a key figure in the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, who rebelled against him last year. He got the support of a large number of members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the Shiv Sena. Thackeray later resigned and Shinde became chief minister with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already ruled that the Shinde faction can use the Shiv Sena name and the party’s famous ‘bow and arrow’ symbol.
“Relief could have been provided had he [Thackeray] not resigned and not faced the floor test. The Governor should not have called for a trust vote, but because Uddhav Thackeray resigned, Eknath Shinde to form the government It was proper for the governor to call,” the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said the court cannot set aside the resignation submitted by Thackeray.
The bench clarified that if Thackeray had refrained from resigning, it could have reinstated him, but the court cannot set aside the resignation.
The bench noted that the petitioners argued for restoration of status quo, however, Thackeray did not face the floor test.
The apex court said that the Governor of Maharashtra erred in concluding that Uddhav Thackeray has lost majority in the House.
The bench said that the lack of security to the MLAs (Eknath Shinde faction) is not a reason to conclude that a government has fallen and is nothing but an extraneous reason to rely on the Governor.
The top court said that the governor has no objective material to doubt the confidence of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and call for a floor test.
The bench said that Devendra Fadnavis and independent MLAs also did not move the no-confidence motion and the Governor’s exercise of discretion was not in accordance with the law.
The bench said that neither the Constitution nor the law empowers the Governor to enter the political arena and play a role in intra-party or intra-party disputes.
The apex court delivered its verdict on the political crisis in Maharashtra in connection with the rebellion of Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and other legislators, which led to the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.