A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena seeking a stay on the Election Commission from deciding on the claim by the Eknath Shinde faction of being the “real Shiv Sena”.
After a daylong hearing that was also telecast live in a historic first for India, the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha ruled that there would be no stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission of India to decide on the claim by the Eknath Shinde faction.
“We direct that there shall be no stay on the proceedings before the Election Commission. The I.As (Intervention Applications) seeking stay stands accordingly dismissed,” the apex court said in its ruling.
The apex court had on September 7 agreed to hear the question of whether the EC can go ahead and hear Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde’s claim over the Shiv Sena party and its symbol of ‘bow and arrow’ even as petitions concerning the disqualification of his breakaway faction for defection are pending in the top court.
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The Uddhav faction had filed the interim applications earlier in the Supreme Court against the EC proceedings, arguing that the poll panel should await the SC’s decision — on whether the Shinde faction’s rebellion, without forming a new party or merging with another, amounted to a “split” from the original Shiv Sena — before proceeding under the Symbols Order of 1968.
The top court’s ruling comes as a setback for the Thackeray faction which now risks losing the party symbol and the claim to Shiv Sena if the EC decides in the Shinde faction’s favour. The decision, which comes just ahead of the BMC and municipal elections in the state likely to be held this year.