By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2023-02-23 07:50:52
The Supreme Court has refused to grant an interim stay to the Uddhav Thackeray group of the Shiv Sena against the Election Commission (EC) order giving the party name and symbol to the Eknath Shinde group and, for all practical purposes, recognizing it as the 'real' Shiv Sena. The court said that it was not in favour of giving a stay without hearing the other side. Accordingly, the court issued a notice to the Shinde group to file their response within 15 days and a weekâs time thereafter to the Thackeray group to submit a rejoinder before it would hear the case again.
There was an intense legal tussle during the hearing for the stay. Lawyers representing the Thackeray group raised two matters which they said would put the Thackeray group at a disadvantage if the stay was not granted. Firstly, they said that if the Shinde group was not restrained, they would take over all assets and bank accounts of the party citing the EC order which recognized it as the 'real' Shiv sena for all practical purposes. Then, they said that the Shinde group could also take steps to disqualify the MLAs of the Thackeray group on the strength of the EC order.
But the court refused to grant any relief on both the points raised. The court said that since the EC order just awarded the party name and symbol to the Shinde group, it did not expressly give it any right to claim assets and bank accounts, the point raised cannot be taken up in the plea for the stay as it did was not in the EC order.
For the point about disqualification, the court was satisfied by the answer given by the Shinde group that there was an understanding between the two groups that matters will not be precipitated until the courts decided the earlier disqualification matter. The Shinde group categorically said that it had no plans to issue new disqualification notices to the MLAs of the Thackeray group on the basis of the EC order. Hence, the court chose not to grant any relief to the Thackeray group on this point too.
While it is true that the Shinde group has started taking over some offices and other assets of the Shiv Sena claiming to be the ârealâ party after the EC order, it is also true that until the Supreme Court decides the matter of the legality of the EC order, all such machinations by the Shinde group are temporary. If the Supreme Court holds the EC order faulty or illegal and decides in favour of the Thackeray group, all acquisitions by the Shinde group will be null and void. Hence, the Thackeray group will have to wait till hearings are completed on its plea challenging the EC order.