Sena of Uddhav Thackeray Files Petition in Supreme Court Regarding Speaker-Chief Minister Meeting

New Delhi: After images of Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s weekend meeting with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde at his official house went viral, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray attacked the speaker on Tuesday and his Shiv Sena (UBT) filed a case in the Supreme Court (again). They also got together in October.
The Speaker’s actions were criticized, especially because one of the petitions is directed at the Chief Minister. On Wednesday, the Speaker will make a decision on two separate petitions submitted by competing Sena groups, one led by Mr. Thackeray and the other by Mr. Shinde, both of which demand the disqualification of MLAs from the other side.

The Sena (UBT) group said in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court that it was “improper” for Mr. Narwekar to meet with Mr. Shinde three days before to his decision on the disqualification petitions.

The Uddhav Thackeray camp petitioned the court, “How can the ‘judge’ in any case meet one of the parties (in private) before giving the judgement? It is highly inappropriate.”

The Speaker, in his capacity as the adjudicating authority, is required under the Tenth Schedule to behave in a fair and unbiased way. The Sena (UBT) group stated, “The Speaker’s behavior needs to inspire confidence, but his current actions raise concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the decision-making process.”

Sanjay Shirsat, a spokesman for the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, reacted to NDTV by saying that Mr. Shinde and Mr. Narwekar had no reason not to meet. “He is the Chief Minister… there is no 302 case (referring to the IPC section invoked in murder cases)… anyone can meet him.”

This Wednesday at 4 p.m., Rahul Narwekar’s decision on the disqualification petitions will close another chapter in Maharashtra’s political turmoil, which started in June of last year when Mr. Shinde and many other MLAs joined the BJP, toppling the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.

The Speaker’s office negotiated a 10-day extension for Mr. Narwekar just before the Supreme Court gave him till December 31 to announce his judgment on the petitions, citing “lakhs of pages of documents” that needed to be reviewed and examined before a conclusion could be made.

The court cautioned Mr. Narwekar not to drag out this case any further, especially after it had already instructed him to rule on the different petitions in a “reasonable time” on May 11 of last year. Mr. Narwekar had originally requested a delay until February 29, months before the state held another Assembly election.

The NCP led by Sharad Pawar and the Thackeray and Shinde factions of the Shiv Sena have filed 34 cross-petitions seeking the disqualification of 56 legislators from Maharashtra.

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