The legal battle between factions within the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has escalated to the Supreme Court, with the Uddhav Thackeray faction challenging the plea relating to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s order recognizing Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s group as the “real political party.” The dispute stems from the split within the Shiv Sena in June 2022, leading to conflicting claims over the party’s leadership and representation in the state legislature.
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced its intention to list the plea filed by the Thackeray faction for hearing. However, due to time constraints, the matter could not be addressed on that day. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Thackeray faction, urged the court to proceed with the case, indicating that notices had been issued earlier. The Chief Justice of India (CJI) assured that the case would be listed for a hearing.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Shinde group, argued that since a similar petition was pending in the Bombay High Court, simultaneous proceedings in two courts should be avoided. This underscores the complexity and significance of the legal dispute, as both factions seek judicial intervention to uphold their claims to the Shiv Sena’s leadership and political legitimacy.
Earlier, on February 5, the bench led by the CJI had agreed to consider listing the plea filed by the Thackeray faction. The Supreme Court had also issued notices to Chief Minister Shinde and other lawmakers from his group on January 22, following the Thackeray bloc’s challenge to the speaker’s order. The court had directed the listing of the case after a two-week interval.
The crux of the dispute revolves around the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s decision to recognize Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction as the “real political party” within the Shiv Sena. This determination, made by Speaker Rahul Narwekar in an order issued on January 10, has been contested by the Thackeray faction. They allege that Shinde’s assumption of power is unconstitutional and that his leadership represents an “unlawful government” in Maharashtra.
Moreover, the Thackeray faction has raised objections to the speaker’s refusal to disqualify 16 MLAs affiliated with the ruling camp, including Chief Minister Shinde. They argue that the speaker’s orders are “patently unlawful and perverse,” as they effectively reward defectors instead of holding them accountable for their actions.
The legal battle highlights the broader implications of factionalism within political parties, particularly in states where coalition governments are prevalent. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena’s internal strife has not only led to legal challenges but also raised questions about governance and stability in the state. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s deliberations will likely have far-reaching consequences for the political landscape of Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena’s future trajectory.
Furthermore, the case underscores the importance of judicial oversight in resolving intra-party disputes and upholding democratic principles. As custodians of the rule of law, the courts play a vital role in adjudicating conflicts and ensuring the integrity of political institutions. By examining the legality of the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s decision, the Supreme Court reaffirms its commitment to impartiality and justice in the face of political turmoil.
The legal battle between the factions within the Shiv Sena reflects the complex dynamics of party politics in India. As the Supreme Court prepares to adjudicate the dispute, the outcome will not only determine the leadership of the Shiv Sena but also set precedents for intra-party conflicts across the country. Ultimately, the resolution of this case will shape the future of Maharashtra’s political landscape and the democratic process as a whole.