SC reserves order on referring to 7-judge bench for reconsidering 2016 Nabam Rebia judgement

SC in Nabam Rebia had ruled that the assembly speaker cannot proceed with a plea for disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice seeking his removal is the pending decision in the House. 

Published: 16th February 2023 05:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th February 2023 05:38 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. (File Photo | Shekar Yadav, EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court five-judge bench on Thursday reserved its verdict in the pleas related to the Maharashtra political crisis wherein former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has sought a reference of SCs 2016 ruling in Nabam Rebia to a seven-judge bench. 

SC in Nabam Rebia had ruled that the assembly speaker cannot proceed with a plea for disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice seeking his removal is the pending decision in the House. 

The judgement had come to the rescue of the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, now the chief minister of Maharashtra. The Thackeray faction had sought their disqualification even while a notice of the Shinde group for the removal of Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker Narhari Sitaram Zirwal, a Thackeray loyalist, was pending before the House.

“Arguments have been addressed only on the point whether the decision on Nabam Rebia requires consideration by a larger bench. The hearing concluded on that aspect. Judgment reserved,” a bench headed by CJI DY Chandrachud said. 

During the hearing, CJI DY Chandrachud opined that bar on the speaker for entertaining a disqualification plea while a resolution for his removal has been issued much be attached since the speaker acts as an adjudicator under the 10th schedule. He also added that this has very serious consequences as finality is also added to adjudication since MLAs lose their seats. CJI further added that the speaker perhaps created a problem himself may be out of political exigency. 

“The principle in Nabam Rebia, once a notice for your removal is given then there is a bar. Except for one thing- when the speaker acts to disqualify somebody under the 10th schedule he is affecting the majority in the electoral college which will decide upon his removal. The Constitution lays down the principle with regard to overall disqualifications. On the tenth schedule, the constitution has introduced additional disqualification,” the CJI said. 

Yesterday, Supreme Court while terming the issue of the Speaker’s or Dy Speaker’s power to decide disqualification pleas during the pendency of notice seeking his removal in the house as “tough” opined that the consequences of permitting or restraining them have serious ramifications for the polity. The five-judge bench during the hearing also said that it would not go to the extent of declaring Nabam Rebia law as wrong but asked if the same could be tweaked up a little. 

For the Shinde faction, Senior Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani while calling the “floor test wherein former Maha CM had to prove his majority” as “stillborn” told the bench that Thackeray on June 29 had resigned voluntarily as he was conscious that he won’t pass the floor test. 

Opposing reference of Nabam Rebia’s ruling to a larger bench, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh also for the Shinde faction said, “There is no need for reference is writ large in the existing constitutional scheme as it existed before the 55th constitutional amendment. The entire democracy is dependent on elections. The most valuable right is the holding of elections. Any cutting short cannot have finality when there is a lurking doubt about his impartiality. The speaker is expected to maintain proprietary. His conduct should not just be impartial but such impartiality should be perceivable.” 

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal in his rejoinder submissions for former Maharashtra CM said that the matter should be referred to a larger bench to prevent the toppling of a legally elected government. “You are disabling Speaker and toppling the Govt,” he also said. 


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