The Supreme Court said on Monday it will hear on October 13 a plea by the Sharad Pawar-led faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for a direction to the Maharashtra assembly speaker to expeditiously decide the disqualification petitions against deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and party MLAs loyal to him. The matter came up for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, which said it will be heard along with a separate pending petition on Shiv Sena MLAs.
The bench said in the pending matter, the apex court had asked the assembly speaker to spell out the timeline for adjudication of the disqualification petitions against Shiv Sena MLAs owing allegiance to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
“What we will do is we will list that matter and this matter on Friday (October 13),” said the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
On September 18, the apex court had asked Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar to fix a timeline within a week for adjudication of the disqualification petitions filed against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena MLAs loyal to him who had tied up with the BJP to form a new government in June 2022.
During the brief hearing on Monday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for petitioner Jayant Patil, said the disqualification petitions were filed with the speaker on July 2 but no notice was issued on them till date.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the opposite faction, said one disqualification petition was filed in September and notice has been issued on it.
The bench said it will hear the matter on October 9 along with the pending petition.
In July, the Sharad Pawar faction of the NCP had moved the Maharashtra assembly speaker seeking disqualification of Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs, who had taken oath as ministers of the Shinde government.
On September 18, the apex court, while hearing the matter pertaining to Shiv Sena MLAs, had referred to its May 11 verdict on last year’s political crisis in Maharashtra and the direction it issued to the speaker to decide the disqualification petitions within a reasonable time.
The court had asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta to apprise the bench of the time schedule to be fixed by the speaker for deciding the pleas for disqualification of 56 MLAs including lawmakers belonging to the Shinde faction.
The Election Commission had on October 6 met the warring factions of the NCP led by Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar over claims to the party’s name and poll symbol.
Ajit Pawar, who had moved the Election Commission staking claim to the party name and election symbol, asserted he had the support of 42 of the 53 NCP MLAs in Maharashtra, six of the nine MLCs, all seven MLAs in Nagaland and one member each in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
The Sharad Pawar-led faction had told the poll panel there was no dispute in the party and that a few mischievous individuals have defected from the organisation for their personal ambitions.
Ajit Pawar, then the leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, had rebelled against Sharad Pawar in July this year, and joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government.