The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on the issue of whether pleas related to the June 2022 Maharashtra political crisis triggered by the Shiv Sena's division be referred to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration of the 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment. The 2016 judgment deals with powers of assembly speakers to deal with disqualification pleas.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud heard submissions from lawyers appearing for Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde factions. "Heard counsel for parties. Arguments addressed only on the question of Nabam Rebia being referred to a larger bench. Orders reserved," the bench said.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray Shiv Sena, has sought reference of the cases to a seven-judge bench to have a re-look at the Nabam Rebia judgement. Senior advocates Harish Salve and N K Kaul, appearing for the Shinde group, opposed the reference to a larger bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra Governor, also opposed any move to refer the matter to a larger bench.

In 2016, a five-judge constitution bench, while deciding the Nabam Rebia case of Arunachal Pradesh, had held that the assembly speaker cannot proceed with a plea for disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice seeking removal of the speaker is pending decision in the House.

The judgment had come to the rescue of the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, now the chief minister of Maharashtra. The Thackeray faction had sought their disqualification even while a notice of the Shinde group for the removal of Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker Narhari Sitaram Zirwal, a Thackeray loyalist, was pending before the House.

The day before yesterday, it was argued before the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud that the 2016 Constitution Bench's decision in the matter of Nabam Rebia & Anr. v. Deputy Speaker & Ors. should be doubted and referred to a seven-judge bench to reconsider.

With PTI Inputs