AFTER HEARING OF arguments for three hours from the lawyers of both the factions of Shiv Sena (led by Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde) on whether the 34 disqualification petitions against the 54 MLAs should be clubbed or not, Speaker Rahul Narwekar decided to give his verdict on the next date on October 20.
On Thursday, while the Sena UBT argued that the petitions should be clubbed and a joint hearing of all the petitions should be held, the Shinde-led Sena opposed it and argued that all the petitions are separate in nature and the cause of the action is also different and hence they should be heard separately.
The Sena UBT also made new applications before Narwekar, citing they wanted to place additional facts and issues before the Speaker.
Shinde faction lawyer Anil Sakhare said “the lawyers from both the factions argued for almost three hours on the issue of clubbing of the petitions. The Speaker will now give his decision on October 20. The Thackeray faction is demanding a joint hearing…but it will not be proper. We argued that the petitions are separate in nature, each petition has different cause of actions and the issues are separate. So we argued that it shouldn’t be heard jointly and a separate hearing is needed.”
Further, elaborating the need for separate hearings, Sakhare said that not attending the meetings convened in June, not following the whip for electing the Speaker in the assembly, not following the whip while proving the majority are three different things based on which petitions have been filed. Now it is the right of every MLA to present his side and appear before the Speaker. But if the petitions are clubbed, then it would not be possible. So it will be injustice to those MLAs. Hence we have urged the Speaker to hold the hearing as soon as possible and that we will support and co-operate for that,” Sakhare said.
However, Shiv Sena UBT Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai said the Shinde-led Sena wish to delay the matter and hence they want separate hearings and keep delaying the whole procedure so that they can remain safe.
“The arguments took place on whether the petitions should be clubbed and the submission was done. The Shinde faction wants to delay the matter and derail the whole procedure to avoid getting disqualified. They want separate hearings so that it would be a more time consuming process… they know that they will be disqualified but they are trying to buy some more time. The SC should also take cognisance of it,” Desai said, adding that there shouldn’t be further delay on the matter since justice delayed is justice denied and if needed, we can approach SC for justice.
Narwekar had on Wednesday preponed the hearing of the disqualification pleas against the Shiv Sena MLAs from Friday to Thursday.
In the last week of September, Narwekar had issued an order setting down the timeline and procedure for holding the hearings on disqualification of Shiv Sena MLAs.
As per the timeline, the hearing was supposed to start from October 13. The Shiv Sena (UBT) had, however, raised objections over it saying that there is no clarity till when the hearing will go on as final hearing date is not mentioned. As per the timeline mentioned in the order issued by Narwekar, the submission of evidences, documents, affidavits, pleas, its verification and arguments would go on till November 23 before the Speaker would start the cross-examination of the MLAs or persons concerned.
But there is no clarity in the order on when the final decision on the disqualification would be given. The order states that “cross-examinations shall commence from November 23 and further dates shall be given as per the dates convenient to parties and their counsels. As far as possible, the cross-examination shall be held twice a week. After two-week from conclusion of recording of evidence, the petitions would be listed for final hearing.” Both the factions of Sena had accused each other of defying the party’s whip during the Speaker’s election and the trust vote that was held on July 3 and 4 respectively last year and sought disqualification of the legislators from both sides.
While filing disqualification pleas against Thackeray led Sena MLAs after winning the trust vote, the Shinde led Sena’s chief whip Bharat Gogawale did not include Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, to the list of legislators they wanted to be disqualified for violating a whip issued by Gogawale.
Except for Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray and Rutuja Latke who was elected as an MLA in October last year, all other 54 Sena MLAs are now facing disqualification petitions.