In the first of The Leaflet’s podcast series, The Leaflet’s co-founder, senior advocate, Indira Jaising and The Leaflet’s Editor, V.Venkatesan discuss with the former Lok Sabha Secretary-General, P.D.T. Achary, the implications of the Eknathrao Sambhaji Shinde versus Deputy Speaker, Maharashtra State Legislative Assembly, currently being heard by the Supreme Court. The case, for the first time, raises a host of issues, following the revolt by the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, which resulted in the resignation of the then Chief Minister, Udhav Thackeray. With the rival factions issuing disqualification notices under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, Achary feels that the real issue before the Supreme Court is to give a ruling on which of these factions is competent to issue disqualification notices under the Tenth Schedule, dealing with defection by the members of Parliament and state legislative assemblies. Once the court decides the issue, the matter, Achary says, should be left to the Speaker of the assembly to decide.
On the question of which is the original Shiv Sena, Achary is clear that the Tenth Schedule does not deal with the question of majority or minority support in a legislature party, and that the original political party is the one which distributed party tickets to the official party candidates who were elected to the assembly in the last election. By implication, since the party under the leadership of Udhav Thackeray is the one which distributed party tickets to the official party candidates before the last election, it would be deemed to be the original political party.
Achary feels that the Speaker of the assembly does not have the power to decide whether the leader of a legislature party enjoys majority support within that party, and that it should be left to that party to decide the question of leadership. Achary also answers a pointed question on whether the Tenth Schedule can come in the way if the majority of a legislature party wishes to change its leader, without merging its group with another party. Also answered is another question on whether the Governor could have validly invited Eknath Shinde to form the alternative Government, after the resignation of Udhav Thackeray, when a disqualification petition was pending against Eknath Shinde with the Deputy Speaker, who was deactivated by an interim order of the Supreme Court.
Readers are welcome to listen to the entire podcast, to understand how Achary answers the other questions from The Leaflet’s team on the several implications of the case before the Supreme Court.