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Maharashtra political crisis a tough constitutional issue to decide: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme court on Wednesday said that the issues arising from the Maharashtra political crisis rooted in the Shiv Sena feud are "tough Constitutional issues" to decide and observed that it may "tightened" a 2016 judgement.

A five-judge bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha said, "We may not go to the extent of saying that Nabam Rebia (judgement) is wrong. But can we tighten it?" The apex court asked the arguing advocates to address whether the "tightening" of the 2016 judgment can be undertaken by the five-judge bench currently hearing a batch of petitions arising from the 2022 Shiv Sena-rooted Maharashtra political crisis or be referred to a larger seven-judge bench.

2016 Nabam Rebia's judgment was passed by a five-judge bench and a bench of the same strength cannot interfere with the judgment by a bench of the same strength.

"If we want to change something in the 2016 Nabam Rabia judgment, can we do it sitting as a five-judge bench or refer to a seven-judge bench," asked Justice Shah.

On July 13, 2016, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the Nabam Rebia case held that Speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.

Shiv Sena cites Nabam Rebia's judgment stating that Deputy Speaker does not have the authority to decide disqualification when a notice for his removal is pending.

While Uddhav Thackeray camp of Shiv Sena has argued in favour of revisiting the 2016 five-judge Constitution bench that said that a Speaker faced with a notice seeking his removal cannot exercise powers under the Tenth Schedule, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde camp has argued that 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment was not relevant to the issues arising from Maharashtra political crisis. Shinde camp has defended the 2016 judgment as correct, which required no relook.

The hearing will continue on Thursday when senior advocates Mahesh Jethmalani and Maninder Singh will argue for the Shinde faction, followed by rejoinder arguments by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Devadatt Kamat for the Thackeray faction.
The apex court hearing arguments on whether the matter is heard by a seven-judge bench or by a five-judge bench. Sibal appearing for the Thackeray faction had told the bench that he wants to argue on the need for a seven-judge bench to hear the case.
A five-judge Constitution bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by rival factions Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis. (ANI)

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