SC refuses to stay EC order recognising Shinde group as official Shiv Sena

New Delhi, Feb 22: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Election Commission decision recognising the Eknath Shinde faction as the official Shiv Sena and granted it the party name and symbol but agreed to entertain a plea by Uddhav Thackeray challenging it.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said: “We’ll entertain the petition, we’ll issue notice.”

The top court sought a response from Shinde group in two weeks.

The Chief Justice asked senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing Shinde, said: “Mr Kaul, if we take this after two weeks, are you in the process of issuing a whip or disqualifying them?” As Kaul replied “no”, the Chief Justice said: “So we’ll record your statement”.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Uddhav Thackeray, said our bank accounts, properties etc will be taken over by them.

The Supreme Court also refused to restrain the Shinde- action from taking over properties and finances of Shiv Sena, saying that this will amount to staying the EC order and “we can’t do that since they have succeeded there”.

Lawyers, representing Thackeray, argued that Shinde group, being termed original Shiv Sena, would now issue a whip to them to vote in its favour, failing which fresh disqualification proceedings could be initiated against them. Shinde group said it would not precipitate the matter.

Thackeray, in the plea filed through advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, said the EC has failed to appreciate that petitioner enjoys overwhelming support in the rank and file of the party. “The Petitioner has an overwhelming majority in the Pratinidhi Sabha which is the apex representative body representing the wishes of the primary members and other stakeholders of the party. The Pratinidhi Sabha is the apex body recognised under Article VIII of the Party Constitution. The Petitioner enjoys the support of 160 members out of approximately 200 odd members in the Pratinidhi Sabha,” it added.

The plea contended that the EC has failed to discharge its duties as a neutral arbiter of disputes under para 15 of the Symbols Order and has acted in a manner undermining its constitutional status.