NEW DELHI: In a setback to Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena
faction, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected its plea and allowed the Election Commission to go ahead with its proceedings on intra-party dispute between the Sena factions to decide which one is the original party entitled to get the party’s ‘bow and arrow’ symbol.
A five judge constitution bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha passed a brief order. “There shall be no stay on the proceedings before the commission,” the bench said and allowed the poll panel to decide the proceedings initiated by the Eknath Shinde-led Sena faction seeking validation of their group as the “real” Shiv Sena to wrest control of the party’s symbol.
During the proceeding, advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi contended that proceedings pertaining to disqualification of Shinde and other MLAs from his faction were interlinked with the plea before the EC and said that matter pertaining to disqualification should be first adjudicated. They said Shinde himself stands not only disqualified but he also voluntarily gave up primary membership of the party by indulging in anti-party activities and getting associated with BJP and he had no locus to file plea before the commission.
Their plea was opposed by advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Maninder Singh and Mahesh Jethmalani, who said the overwhelming majority of the party was with them and Thackeray camp was in “hopeless minority”. So, the disqualification was not valid. They contended that even if the Maharashtra CM had been disqualified as an MLA he would continue to be a member of Shiv Sena as disqualification means loss of membership of the assembly not of the party. They said it is wrong to say that the two proceedings – one in assembly on disqualification under 10th Schedule and other before the EC – were interlinked.
But the EC submitted that proceedings before it had nothing to do with pending disqualification and it should be allowed to decide the issue. Advocate Arvind Datar submitted that the EC is bound by the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, whose regulation 15 says if any group of members of a political party claim they are the real party, the EC is duty-bound to give notice to the other side, hear everybody and then decide.
Datar said the EC is concerned with the party which is on a political plane but the 10th Schedule is concerned with what happens in the assembly. “Disqualification is quite different and EC role is not in any way restricted by 10th Schedule. Parallel proceedings is avoided in case of concurrent jurisdiction as there is possibility of two authorities contradicting themselves. Whatever happens on the floor of the House has no impact on EC proceedings,” he said. Will apply rule of majority: CEC
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar on Tuesday said the Election Commission of India will apply the transparent process of the “rule of majority” after the SC allowed the EC to go ahead with the hearing for recognition of the “real” Shiv Sena.