New Delhi: The Supreme Court, after hearing submissions for nine days, on Thursday reserved its judgment on a batch of cross-petitions of Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde groups in connection with the Maharashtra political crisis.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha, before reserving the verdict, shot a volley of questions at senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Thackeray group.
The Chief Justice asked Singhvi: “So, really the question is whether there was a valid exercise of power by the Governor to call for a trust vote? And what happens, if we come to a conclusion that there was no valid exercise of power by the Governor to call for a trust vote?”
Singhvi said everything falls. However, the bench that everything falls on would be simple but Singhvi stressed that is the core question and urged the court to allow him to present his case.
The Chief Justice further queried, “Then, according to you what, we reinstate the Uddhav Thackeray government? But you resigned.”
As Singhvi said Thackeray’s resignation and not facing the trust vote is irrelevant, the Chief Justice observed: “That is, the court being told to reinstate a government (which has resigned).”
To this, Singhvi said that it is a plausible way of looking at it but it is irrelevant, and asked the bench to give him an opportunity to explain his contention.
At this juncture, Justice Shah said: “How can the court reinstate a Chief Minister who did not even face floor test?” Singhvi said the court is not reinstating anyone but it is restoring the status quo ante.
The Chief Justice further queried Singhvi: “But, it would have been a logical thing to do provided you had lost the trust vote on the floor of the Assembly. Clearly, then you would have been ousted from power due to a trust vote, which is set aside… look at the intellectual conundrum that it is not that you have been ousted from power as a result of a trust vote which was wrongly summoned by the Governor. You chose not to, whatever reason you did not face the trust vote.”
The bench further said: “So you’re saying that Mr Uddhav Thackeray resigned only because he was called upon by the Governor to face a trust vote?”
Singhvi submitted, “I’m grateful. After I filed the petition, after I made it sub judice, and after I said it’s completely unknown to law and don’t allow it to go on.”
The Chief Justice then asked Singhvi: “You’re frankly accepting the fact that you resigned because the trust vote was going to go against you.” Singhvi replied that is an illegal act and consequences of it are known to his client.
The apex court heard arguments advanced on behalf of both Thackeray and Shinde groups and the office of the Governor and concluded the hearing after senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Singhvi, Devadatt Kamat and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari made their submissions.
The Shinde group was represented by senior advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Harish Salve, Mahesh Jethmalani and advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the office of the Governor in the matter. The hearing in the matter commenced on February 21.
On June 29, 2022, the apex court refused to stay the Governor’s direction to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Thackeray to take floor test, who resigned sensing defeat. It paved the way for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance led by Shinde to come to power in Maharashtra.