The five judges Bench of the Supreme Court today pronounced an order in pleas related to the June 2022 Maharashtra political crisis triggered by the Shiv Sena's division, keeping open the issue of reference to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration of the 2016 judgment in Nabam Rebia & Anr. v. Deputy Speaker & Ors., holding that the same question will be considered along with the merits of the case.

Pronouncing its order, Chief Justice said, "the issue whether the reference of the judgment in Nabam Rebia to a larger bench is warranted would be determined together with the merits of the case. Consequently, the batch of cases is adjourned for hearing on merits on Tuesday, 21 February, 2023 at 10.30 am."

Yesterday, a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud reserved its verdict on the issue of whether its 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment be referred to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration. It was held in Nabam Rebia's case that a Speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings against members when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.

Heard counsel for parties. Arguments addressed only on the question of Nabam Rebia being referred to a larger bench. Orders reserved" said a Constitution Bench also comprising Justice MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice PS Narasimha.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena, sought reference of the cases to a seven-judge bench to have a re-look at the Nabam Rebia judgement. Senior Advocates Harish Salve, Neeraj Kishan Kaul and Mahesh Jethmalani 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.

Cause Title- Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary, Governor of Maharashtra and Ors.