'Tight slap on Uddhav': Ex-Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis welcomes SC verdict on MLAs' suspension

The Supreme Court on Friday held that a resolution suspending the 12 BJP MLAs beyond the period of the remainder of the session held in July 2021 is "unconstitutional" and "irrational".
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (File Photo | PTI)
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (File Photo | PTI)

MUMBAI: Welcoming the Supreme Court's decision of setting aside the suspension of 12 BJP legislators from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, senior party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the verdict is a "another tight slap" on the face of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.

The Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly also alleged that the MVA government, in which NCP and Congress also share power, was indulging in "unconstitutional, unethical, unfair, illegal and undemocratic actions".

The NCP said the decision to suspend the 12 BJP members was taken by the then presiding officer of the House and not by the state government, while ally Shiv Sena expressed surprise over the top court "going soft" on the legislators despite their "misbehaviour".

The Supreme Court on Friday held that the resolution suspending the 12 BJP MLAs beyond the period of the remainder of the session held in July 2021 is "unconstitutional" and "irrational". The top court delivered its verdict on the pleas filed by the 12 legislators, who had challenged their one-year suspension from the assembly.

They were suspended on July 5 last year from after they were accused of misbehaving Bhaskar Jadhav, the then presiding officer of the House, in the Speaker's chamber. Reacting to the apex court's judgement, Fadnavis said in a tweet, "Satyameva Jayate. We welcome and thank the Supreme Court for the historic decision of quashing suspension of our 12 BJP Maharashtra MLAs, who were fighting for the cause of OBCs in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly during the monsoon session."

Apart from Ashish Shelar, the BJP's chief whip in the Assembly, Sanjay Kute, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Parag Alavani, Harish Pimpale, Yogesh Sagar, Jay Kumar Rawal, Narayan Kuche, Ram Satpute and Bunty Bhangdia were suspended from the assembly for one year.

Fadnavis said the SC decision will protect the democratic values and it is yet another tight slap on the face of MVA government for it's unconstitutional, unethical, unfair, illegal and undemocratic actions and activities. "I congratulate our BJP Maharashtra 12 MLAs for getting justice," he added.

"Since the beginning, we were saying that it was completely unconstitutional and gross misuse of power to suspend our MLAs for such a long period to create artificial majority & that too for no valid reason & the Hon SC has upheld our stand," the former chief minister said.

It was not only a question of these 12 MLAs, but of more than 50 lakh citizens in these 12 constituencies, he said. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said the suspension of 12 MLAs was finally quashed by the Supreme Court "as expected".

Taking to Twitter, he said, "The suspension was not at all within the framework of the Constitution. It was not in accordance with the law, rather it was arbitrary. The court has also expressed the same opinion."

He also took a jibe at the MVA government, saying that it is now used to getting slapped by the court. "The state government should realise that it is wrong to trample on the democratic values in such a manner. Now the question is what action MVA government will take against those who ordered unjust suspension," he asked.

Ashish Shelar, who was amongst those suspended, said that the Supreme Court clarified that the decision taken by the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance government in Maharashtra was unconstitutional.

Speaking to reporters, he said, "The SC clarified that the decision taken by the Maharashtra government was unconstitutional, illegal and irrational. This is for the first time that the apex court slammed the government." The complete judgement is yet to come out.

However, the Supreme Court quashed the resolution passed on July 5, 2021 suspending BJP MLAs, he said. "This is a historic decision and an eye-wash for democracy. The Maharashtra government was given a chance to correct its own mistake. During the hearing, the Supreme Court had directed the legislature to take appropriate decision in this regard. But only the wise can apprehend the meaning," he said.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led government seems to have lost its wisdom due to its ego. It is affected by this historic decision, but this could have been averted, the BJP legislator said. Had our application for revocation of suspension been considered during the assembly session, the Thackeray government could have avoided this situation, he added.

"But the government's ego was at its peak. It does not seem to accept any system, be it investigating system, traditions or constitutional processes. It has become an arbitrary government," he said. It had said that the court had earlier said that the suspension of the MLAs was worse than expulsion. "Even worst was the resolution and decision which was a threat to democracy. Today, the court ruled that the suspension cannot extend beyond the session in which it came into effect," Shelar said.

Meanwhile, speaking about the development, state minister Nawab Malik, who is the chief spokesperson of the NCP, said, "The speaker of the legislative assembly will take a decision once the Supreme Court's written order is available. The decision to suspend 12 MLAs of BJP was taken by the speaker and not by the government."

He said that the secretariat of the Maharashtra Assembly will study the SC decision after which the speaker will decide. NCP's Maharashtra unit president and minister Jayant Patil said the suspension of the MLAs was a result of their misbehaviour with the then speaker. "The decision to suspend them was taken by the speaker and not the state government," he said.

Now after the Supreme Court's verdict, the final decision will be taken once the written order is made available to the office of the speaker, he said. Refusing to term the SC decision as a setback to the government, Patil said, "What happened on that day with the then speaker was so extreme that it led to the suspension of the MLAs for 12 months. Incidents had happened in the past as well when legislators were suspended for a longer period."

He also drew the attention towards the MVA government's request to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to appoint 12 members to the Legislative Council from his quota. "Everything should happen as per the law. The state cabinet had recommended 12 names, but they are yet to be approved by the governor," he said.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, "I am surprised that the SC is going soft on 12 BJP MLAs who have been suspended for their alleged misbehaviour. The same SC is surprisingly not so considerate when it comes to 12 names nominated by state cabinet to be appointed as MLCs. The governor is sitting on the file for some political vendetta. The SC has overstepped on the rights of the legislators when it comes to suspension of 12 MLAs."

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