The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Election Commission's decision to give the party name "Shiv Sena" and the symbol "Bow and Arrow" to the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with the rival factions gearing up for the legal battle ahead.
The court listed the matter after two weeks and issued notice to the Shinde camp.
While Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the Supreme Court had not accepted the demand of status quo, Thackeray faction leader Anil Desai said that the court had taken up the plea and had asked them to take remedies if any action is outside the decision of the poll panel.
NCP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar attacked the Centre over Election Commission decision, saying it is an example of "how an institution can be misused".
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud which comprised Justices PS Narsimha and JB Pardiwala issued notice to the Shinde camp and Election Commission on the plea and listed the matter after two weeks.
Referring to the EC order, the court said, "We cannot stay an order at this stage".
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The court clarified that Uddhav Thackeray camp can pursue other remedies of law if any action is taken which is not based on EC order.
Senior Advocate NK Kaul, appearing for the respondent, assured SC that they will not issue a whip and not precipitate the disqualification proceeding.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Uddhav Thackeray, sought interim relief and said that the rival faction was taking office after office. He sought a status quo order.
Senior Advocate NK Kaul, appearing for the respondent, raised preliminary objections on the maintainability of the plea filed by Uddhav Thackeray.
Sibal said the EC passed the order on the test of the majority in the legislative wing.
He apprised the court that their camp has a majority in Rajya Sabha, but a rival faction got the symbol due to the majority in the legislative wing.
Kaul said for recognition of political party, number of votes, percentage of votes etc have to be seen and added that ECI examines the entire structure of the party.
The court was hearing the plea by Uddhav Thackeray challenging the Election Commission's move to allot the party name "Shiv Sena" and the symbol "Bow and Arrow" to the faction led by Eknath Shinde.
Uddhav, in his plea filed on Monday, said that ECI failed to consider that his faction enjoys the majority in the Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha.
Uddhav Thackeray in the plea, also submitted that the legislative majority alone, in this case, could not be the basis for passing of the order by EC.
Challenging the EC decision, Uddhav Thackeray said the poll panel was erroneous in its decision.
"The entire edifice of the impugned order (EC's decision) is based upon the purported legislative majority of the Respondent (Shinde) which is an issue to be determined by the top court in the Constitution Bench.
"The ECI has failed to consider that the Petitioner enjoys a majority in the Legislative Council (12 out of 12) and Rajya Sabha (3 out of 3). It is submitted that in a case of this kind where there is a conflict even in the legislative majority i.e., Lok Sabha on the one hand and Rajya Sabha on the other as well as Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, more particularly, having regard to the fact that there is a possibility of the alleged members losing their right of membership, the legislative majority alone is not a safe guide to determine as to who holds the majority for the purposes of adjudicating a petition of the Symbols Order," the plea said.
"In these circumstances, it is respectfully submitted that the legislative majority test cannot be the test which can be applied for the purposes of determination of the present dispute," it added.
Shinde said Supreme Court would take a decision on the Shiv Sena symbol row in further hearing.
"The rival (Thackeray faction) had demanded a status quo on the order of the Election Commission. But Supreme Court refused to stay Election Commission's order. A further hearing will be done and a decision will be taken. SC has rejected their plea," he said.
Mahesh Jethmalani, BJP MP and lawyer of Shinde faction, expressed confidence about their case.
"Today, SC has rejected the plea by Uddhav Thackeray faction over EC order on Shiv Sena symbol. There would be final hearing.... We're very confident about our case," he said later.
Pawar slammed Election Commission's decision to recognize Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena faction as the real Shiv Sena and allotting them the 'bow and arrow' poll symbol.
"Election Commission gave a decision a few days ago. This is an example of how an institution can be misused. We have never seen such a decision by EC. Balasaheb Thackeray in his last days said that Shiv Sena's responsibility would be given to Uddhav Thackeray after him," said NCP chief.
"But someone complained to the Election Commission and the Election Commission gave a verdict and allotted the Shiv Sena and its symbol to someone else from those who formed this party. This is a big attack on political parties. Today, the organization which is working in the country under Modi's leadership thinks they will keep the power in their hand," Pawar added.
Following EC decision, Uddhav Thackeray had hit out at Shinde faction.
"Everything has been stolen from me. The name and symbol of our party have been stolen but the name 'Thackeray' cannot be stolen. We have moved the Supreme Court against the decision given by the Election Commission," he had said.
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