New Delhi, Feb 22 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Election Commission decision recognising the Eknath Shinde faction as the official Shiv Sena and granted it the party name and symbol but agreed to entertain a plea by Uddhav Thackeray challenging it.
Thackeray's counsel vehemently argued that the Shinde group should be restrained from taking over assets and bank accounts of Shiv Sena, but the top court declined to entertain these submissions for now.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said: "Now, we cannot pass an order to stay the Election Commission order. We are entertaining the SLP (special leave petition by Thackeray against the ECI order). We cannot stay the ECI order today."
The bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, however, granted liberty to the Thackeray faction to use the name 'Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray' and the 'flaming torch' symbol in terms of the EC order during the pendency of the matter.
The EC had allowed that interim arrangement in view of the bye-elections in Maharashtra Assembly, scheduled to take place later this month.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Thackeray, sought a status quo order by saying that the offices and bank accounts of the party are being taken over by the Shinde group. However, the top court declined to entertain these submissions.
The bench pointed out that the EC order does not contain anything regarding bank accounts or properties and the ECI was deciding the symbol order.
"EC order is confined to the allotment of the symbol. Now they have succeeded before the EC. We cannot pass an order which has the effect of staying it without hearing them. We are entertaining the SLP. We can't stay the order at this stagea..They've succeeded before the EC", said the Chief Justice.
However, Sibal pressed that the Shinde group is taking over the properties on the strength of ECI order. The bench replied that is independent of the ECI order, ultimately there is a contractual relationship within a political party and any further action, which is not based on the EC order, you have to exhaust other remedies available in law.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, also appearing for Thackeray, said that Uddhav Thackeray group will face disqualification proceedings if they don't obey the whip or notice issued by Shinde group, as the EC has recognised them.
The Chief Justice asked senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing Shinde: "Mr Kaul, if we take this after two weeks, are you in the process of issuing a whip or disqualifying them?" As Kaul replied "no", the Chief Justice said: "So we'll record your statement". Shinde group said that they would not precipitate the matter.
Thackeray, in the plea filed through advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, said the EC has failed to appreciate that petitioner enjoys overwhelming support in the rank and file of the party. "The Petitioner has an overwhelming majority in the Pratinidhi Sabha which is the apex representative body representing the wishes of the primary members and other stakeholders of the party. The Pratinidhi Sabha is the apex body recognised under Article VIII of the Party Constitution. The Petitioner enjoys the support of 160 members out of approximately 200 odd members in the Pratinidhi Sabha," it added.
The plea contended that the EC has failed to discharge its duties as a neutral arbiter of disputes under para 15 of the Symbols Order and has acted in a manner undermining its constitutional status.
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