Holding that the communication expressing discontent was not sufficient for the Maharashtra Governor to call for a floor test in, a constitution bench of the apex court on Thursday, 11 May observed that the governor's action was "illegal".
"In the present case, the governor did not have any objective material to indicate the government had lost confidence…so his exercise was not legal…” the Supreme Court said.
However, the court added that because former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had resigned already, it cannot restore the status quo in Maharashtra.
The verdict was delivered by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli, and Justice PS Narasimha after reserving the judgement on 16 March.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court upheld the Governor’s decision to invite Shinde to form the government. The court stated that the Governor was justified in his actions in this regard.
Addressing the disqualification proceedings, the Supreme Court clarified that it does not find any extraordinary circumstances that warrant the court’s interference in deciding such matters. Instead, the court directed the Speaker to handle the disqualification petitions.
Last June, Eknath Shinde and 39 MLAs rebelled against the leadership of the undivided Shiv Sena, resulting in the party’s split and the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray, which also included the NCP and Congress. Shinde later formed an alliance with the BJP and returned as the Chief Minister.
In June 2022, a group of Shiv Sena MLAs, led by Eknath Shinde, rebelled against CM Uddhav Thackeray due to his decision to align with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which the rebel faction believed went against the party’s Hindutva ideology.
At the time when it seemed that the rebel MLAs would call for a trust vote with the support of the BJP-appointed governor, the rebel MLAs, led by Shinde, received disqualification notices from the deputy speaker.
Subsequently, the faction approached the Supreme Court to consider whether the rebels should be disqualified. On June 27, the apex court provided interim relief to Shinde by granting an extension of time to file responses to the disqualification notices.
On June 29, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for a floor test called by the governor.
An embattled Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation on June 30 from the post of Chief Minister of Maharashtra after the Supreme Court refused to stay Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s direction to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test in the Assembly.