NEW DELHI: In a blow to the Uddhav Thackeray faction, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Election Commission’s decision to allot the Shiv Sena party name and the bow and arrow symbol to the Eknath Shinde-led group, recognising it as the real Shiv Sena based on its strength in the Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra assembly.
A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, which was constituted at 3.30pm on Wednesday after curtailing proceedings before a five-judge constitution bench, also declined to restrain the Shinde group from taking over the assets and bank accounts of the Shiv Sena, which in turn could lead to a squeeze on the financial resources of the Thackeray faction.
The bench accepted senior advocate Devadatt Kamat’s plea to allow the Thackeray group to continue with the EC’s interim arrangement of using the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) name and flaming torch symbol till further orders. The EC has allowed the Thackeray group to use SS(UBT) and flaming torch symbol till completion of byelections to the Chinchwad and Kasba Peth assembly constituencies scheduled for February 26.
Also, the Shinde group could allow the MPs and MLAs owing allegiance to Thackeray to continue in their posts without facing fresh disqualification proceedings. Senior advocate A M Singhvi articulated the fear of Thackeray group legislators: “Since they are the real Shiv Sena now, they will issue a whip to all Sena MPs and MLAs to vote for them, infraction of which would invite fresh disqualification petitions and proceedings.”
For the Shinde faction, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani said there was an earlier agreement between the two groups not to precipitate the cross disqualification proceedings filed against legislators of rival factions. The Shinde faction has the support of 40 of 55 MLAs in the assembly and 13 of the 19 Lok Sabha MPs.
The SC entertained Thackeray’s petition challenging the EC’s February 17 decision and asked the Shinde group to file its responses in two weeks. The Thackeray group was allowed to file a reply in a week thereafter.
For the Thackeray group, senior advocate Kapil Sibal made repeated pleas for restraining the Shinde group from taking over the Sena offices, assets and bank accounts. “There will be nothing left for the Thackeray group. They have already taken over party offices in the assembly and in the Lok Sabha. At least they should restrain them from taking over the party’s bank accounts and other assets,” he pleaded.
Senior advocate N K Kaul and Maninder Singh, appearing for the Shinde group, reiterated that “we are the Shiv Sena and there has been no rebellion” stand to maintain the correctness of the EC’s decision. Singh said no Sena MLA has gone to any party to invite the wrath of the anti-defection law and said most of the past ministers continue to hold their posts.
Kaul said the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray was a dictatorial party with the president offering no space for a different voice or dissent to his opinion. “As per the Representation of the People Act, every party must have an internal democratic structure. In the Shiv Sena under Thackeray as paksh pramukh (president), he used to nominate the electorate for presidential election and the electorate in turn used to nominate him as president of the party. It had a dictatorial structure,” he said.
“The same party under Shinde now has a democratic structure. That is why the EC recognised the Shinde group as the real Shiv Sena which had the numerical strength in assembly and Lok Sabha. To get recognition as a party, the EC takes into account the number of MLAs and MPs elected by the party and its vote percentage. The same yardstick was applied to the Shinde group and then declared as the real Shiv Sena,” he said.
Watch Uddhav Vs Shinde: Supreme Court refuses to stay Election Commission’s order

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