In a setback to Uddhav Thackeray, the Supreme Court has ruled on Thursday that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will keep his job despite benefiting from an illegal decision made by the then-governor.
Shinde and 15 other MLAs revolted against former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in June of last year, but the Supreme Court ruled that they cannot be disqualified for their actions. The speaker will retain that authority up until a larger panel of judges makes a decision.
Additionally, it declined a request to restore Thackeray’s government because the leader opted to step down rather than face a test of strength in the Assembly.
However, the court strongly criticised the then-governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, for making decisions that favoured Shinde’s faction, claiming that he had “erred” in determining that Thackeray had lost the support of the majority of MLAs.
“The governor did not have any objective material and the exercise of discretion of the governor in this case was not in accordance with the law,” the court said.
Sanjay Raut, Thackeray’s top aide, said: “The Supreme Court decision shows the present Maharashtra government is illegal. It is a moral victory for us.”
After Shinde, supported by the opposition BJP, split the Shiv Sena and convinced the majority of the MLAs to form a new government, Thackeray asked the top court to intervene.
“If Shinde were disqualified, he would have had to resign as Maharashtra Chief Minister and his government will be disbanded,” the bench said.
A five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, considered eight petitions in making its decision. While Harish Salve, Neeraj Kaul, and Mahesh Jethmalani defended Eknath Shinde’s camp in court, top lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued for Uddhav Thackeray’s side.
After making a decision regarding the dispute in February, the Election Commission gave Shinde, both the Shiv Sena party name and its bow and arrow symbol. The name Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and the symbol of a flaming torch were given to Thackeray’s smaller faction.
Also Read: Cannot Restore Uddhav Govt, No Action Against CM Shinde: SC