Supreme Court criticizes Speaker for dragging disqualification hearing of 16 Maharashtra MLAs

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over the delay in the hearing of the disqualification petitions against 16 MLAs of the Maharashtra government, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The apex court has directed the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar to inform the court within two weeks about the progress of the hearing and the steps taken by him so far. The Supreme Court has also warned the Speaker that he cannot drag the matter indefinitely and that he has to respect the dignity of the court.

The disqualification petitions have been filed by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his faction, who allege that 16 MLAs, including Shinde, have defected from their party, Shiv Sena (UBT), to join the ruling coalition of BJP and NCP. They claim that these MLAs have violated the anti-defection law and should be disqualified from their membership of the assembly.

The lawsuit seeks an early decision on the disqualification petitions by the Speaker and asks the court to intervene in the matter. The lawsuit also cites a previous judgment of the Supreme Court on May 11, 2023, in which the court had directed the Speaker to decide on the disqualification petitions within a reasonable time.

The Supreme Court has asked the Speaker to report what he has done since May 11 and to list all the pending petitions before him within a week. The court has also asked him to issue directions for completing the record and fixing the time for the hearing.

The Speaker has said that he has not received a copy of the Supreme Court order yet and that he will take a decision on the disqualification petitions as per the law. He has also said that he is a constitutional officer and that his position cannot be questioned by any other constitutional court.

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Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut has alleged that the Speaker is deliberately delaying the decision on the disqualification petitions and that he is supporting an unconstitutional government. He has said that some MLAs of his party have joined another party without causing a split in his party and that they should be disqualified under the anti-defection law. He has also said that the Supreme Court has made it clear that this matter should have been settled by now.