The Supreme Court on Monday queried whether the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker can become a judge in his own cause and decide whether the motion to remove him is invalid.
The top court also extended, till July 12, the time granted by Deputy Speaker to the 16 dissident MLAs to submit their written responses to the disqualification notice, and asked the Maharashtra government to ensure protection of all rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and their family members.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Shiv Sena's Ajay Choudhari and Sunil Prabhu, submitted before a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala that rebel leader Eknath Shinde's petition can be heard by the Bombay High Court, saying: "This isn't a case to allow leap-frogging."
The bench asked Singhvi a specific query - could the Speaker become a judge in his own cause and decide that the motion to remove him is invalid? "Is the Speaker entitled to decide disqualification petitions when his own removal motion is pending?" it asked.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, submitted that his client has questioned the authenticity of the motion seeking his removal, sent through an anonymous email.
The top court noted that in all fairness, it should have all the records from the office of the Deputy Speaker before it and asked Zirwal to file a detailed affidavit.
As the bench again asked Singhvi to explain whether could the Deputy Speaker, whose removal has been sought, himself decide on that notice, Singhvi replied: "Yes, he can."
The top court also asked the Maharashtra government to provide protection to the rebel MLA and their families, after their counsel made submission stating they apprehend threat to their lives. It recorded the Maharashtra government's undertaking that no harm would be caused to life, liberty, and properties.
The top court also extended, till July 12, the time granted by the Deputy Speaker to the 16 rebel MLAs to submit their response to the disqualification notices.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the bench that the Deputy Speaker cannot proceed with the disqualification proceedings when the motion seeking his removal is pending.
After detailed hearing in the matter, the top court issued notice on petitions by Shinde and the rebel MLAs of Shiv Sena challenging the disqualification notices issued by the Deputy Speaker to them and also the appointment of Choudhari as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader.