After hearing arguments from Shiv Sena factions led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray, assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar has decided to conduct official hearing on disqualification petitions against the MLAs of the Shinde group on October 13, advocate Anil Sakhare who is representing the CM said on Monday.
The Shiv Sena split in June last year following a rebellion by Shinde, who went on to become CM after unseating the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
The Thackeray faction had sought disqualification of several MLAs, including Shinde, under anti-defection laws.
Speaking to reporters on the Vidhan Bhavan premises, Sakhare said, "Speaker Narwekar heard our arguments as we are opposed to clubbing of all the petitions filed before him. Our demand is to conduct independent hearings of those petitions.”
"The speaker may announce the schedule of the hearings in the next couple of days. The first hearing will commence on October 13. Official arguments will be made regarding the hearing of all the petitions together or separately," Sakhare added.
He said there was no official hearing during the day and only the procedural part was decided.
Responding to a query on the issue, Sakhare said the Thackeray faction wants to club all petitions together and conduct a hearing, whereas the Shinde group is against such a proposal.
Disqualification petitions have been filed against 39 MLAs, Sakhare informed.
After the split in the Shiv Sena, the party name and symbol was given to the Shinde group, while the faction led by Thackeray was christened Shiv Sena (UBT).
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai told reporters his faction has opposed the demand of the Shinde group to produce some evidence and hear all the petitions independently.
"Our lawyers told speaker Narwekar there is no need to hear all those petitions independently as the issue is related to a group of MLAs (Shinde faction) not following party orders. This has to be discussed only in the purview of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution," he said.
"As they have not attended any meeting called by party chief Uddhav Thackeray, they are in violation of Schedule 10 2.1 (a) and 2.1(b). The speaker has to decide only on it. Uddhav Thackeray as Shiv Sena chief had invited party MLAs for a meeting on June 21. This meeting was not attended by MLAs who are now facing disqualification petition. None of them have even denied they did not attend it," Desai added.
Desai said the whip was issued by party chief whip Sunil Prabhu, adding that the Supreme Court had accepted that Prabhu was in the right to issue the whip.
"As those MLAs have violated Prabhu's whip, there are in direct violation of schedule 10, 2.1(b). It attracts disqualification. And as per the SC's expectation, the speaker has to decide only on it. There is no need to gather any extra evidence for it," Desai asserted.
The RS MP said he has urged the speaker not to stretch the issue further.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut claimed Narwekar was "under pressure" from the Union government.
"Despite the SC's directives, if the assembly speaker is not working as per the law or Constitution then who is mounting pressure? We are not pressuring him but Delhi (Centre) is. Had there been no pressure on him, the 16 MLAs along with chief minister Eknath Shinde would have been disqualified by now," he claimed.
The speaker himself has changed so many parties that he does not feel anything wrong in such change, Raut alleged.