The Most Important Takeaways from the Maharashtra Verdict

In June 2022, the Supreme Court announced a unanimous decision on many issues relating to a political party split in Maharashtra.

Important Takeaways

The following are the important takeaways from the decision:

(1) Disqualification

  • The Supreme Court did not intervene in the proceedings relating to the disqualification of 16 MLAs (who had gone to Dehradun), including the Chief Minister.
  • The court noted that the question of disqualification should be decided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in accordance with established legal procedures.

(2) Consideration of Party Constitution

  • Political party constitution: The court emphasised that the Speaker must consider the political party constitution, which was submitted to the Election Commission (EC) with the cooperation of all factions, when determining disqualification petitions.
  • Later, the court stated that the “split” in the party would no longer be a valid defence to MLAs facing disqualification.

(3) Governor’s Role

  • The court chastised the then-Governor for ordering a floor test in the absence of adequate objective evidence that the incumbent government had lost the confidence of the House.
  • The Governor must remain politically impartial, according to the court, and must exercise their office within the bounds of the law, not entering the political arena or interfering in intra-party disputes.

(4) Former CM Resignation

  • Should have faced floor test: According to the court, the former CM of the tripartite government, who led one of the factions, resigned and did not face the floor test.
  • The court decided that it could not quash a voluntary resignation, but if the ex-CM had refrained from resigning, the court could have examined a remedy to reinstate his government.

(5) Illegal Appointment of Whip

  • The appointment of the whip by the split-led group was ruled unconstitutional by the court.
  • The Speaker should have conducted an impartial investigation to confirm the political party’s decision to designate the whip.

(6) Separation between Legislative Party and Political Party

  • The court made it clear that the legislature party and the political party are not the same thing.
  • The court ruled that a political party must be registered with the Election Commission, however the legislature party must operate independently in order to defend legislators’ acts inside the political party.

(7) Concurrent Jurisdiction of Speaker and EC

  • The court rejected the argument that the Election Commission could not rule on the party symbol controversy until the Speaker resolved the disqualification petitions.
  • According to the court, both the Speaker and the EC can hear cases concurrently.

(8) Others

  • Furthermore, the court referred some concerns connected to its judgement in the Nabam Rebia Case to a bigger Bench.
  • Restriction on the power of the expelled Speaker: This included limiting the Speaker’s ability to issue disqualification notices to MLAs in the context of a notice for the Speaker’s removal.
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