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Maharashtra political crisis: Supreme Court grants relief to rebel Sena MLAs, extends disqualification deadline till July 12

Vibha Sharma

New Delhi, June 27

In a relief to rebel Shiv Sena lawmakers led by Eknath Shinde, the Supreme Court on Monday kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings before the Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker till July 12 and sought responses to pleas by rebels questioning the legality of notices seeking their disqualification.

The top court, however, refused to pass any interim order on the plea of the Maharashtra Government that there should not be any floor test in the Assembly, saying that they cannot always approach it in case of illegality.

A Vacation Bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala also directed the state government to protect the life, liberty, and property of 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and their family members.

While issuing notice to the Maharashtra Deputy Speaker, the top court directed him to put on affidavit records of no-trust notice served upon him by rebel MLAs.

The top court also recorded the statement of Maharashtra’s counsel that adequate steps have been taken to protect the life and property of rebel MLAs.

The matter will now be heard on July 11.

Meanwhile, a day after another minister, Uday Samant, shifted allegiance to rebel Shinde, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today removed nine rebel ministers, who are currently in Guwahati, “to ensure smooth functioning of the public interest and the department”

“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has decided to hand over the portfolios of five absent ministers and four ministers of state to other ministers to ensure smooth functioning of the public interest and to ensure smooth functioning of the department in case of heavy rains and calamities,” according to an official statement.

The Thackeray side now has four Cabinet ministers, including the CM, his son Aaditya Thackeray, Anil Parab, and Subhash Desai. Barring Aaditya, the other three are MLCs. Shinde’s portfolios have been given to Subhash Desai.

Rebels again requested Thackeray to form a new alliance with the BJP and not shift the party away from ‘Hindutva’ and its core ideology. The appeal was made by Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the rebel camp.

It remains to be seen whether the 39 rebels and Independents led by Shinde will now seek no-trust motion against the Thackeray-led MVA. Rebels say they are waiting for Thackeray to step down on his own. According to the petition filed by Shinde, the alliance has lost the majority as 38 of the members of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party have withdrawn their support, thus bringing it below the majority in the House.

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