The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave permission to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct the hearing of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led faction’s plea seeking recognition as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena and allocation of the party’s ‘bow and arrow’ symbol to it.
A constitution bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha has rejected the petition of the Uddhav Thackeray-led group seeking to restrain the poll body from deciding the Shinde faction’s claim over the “original” Shiv Sena.
“We direct that there would be no stay of the proceedings before the Election Commission,” the bench said.
Speaking to the media, Shiv Sena MP (Thackeray faction) Arvind Sawant said, “We respect the Supreme Court’s decision. It has said ECI can give its decision. It’s not a question of setback. As for disqualification, the case will continue in the court”.
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar told News18, “We have to go through what the SC has said. We have set procedures and laid down procedures it has to go through test of majority.”
Both team Uddhav and team Shinde have fought tooth and nail to claim their rights over the party symbol with both factions claiming to be the ‘real’ Shiv Sena. The two factions have also seen several of their camp members switch sides ever since Shinde was sworn in as the CM of Maharashtra and Devendra Fadnavis as his Deputy on June 30. Notably, Shinde faction claims the support of 41 MLAs to demand the use of the Sena’s symbol.
Let’s take a look at how the Election Commission works in such matters:
THE SYMBOLS ORDER OF 1968
The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 deals with the ECI’s power to recognise parties and allot symbols. If the warring factions belong to a registered and recognised political party, Paragraph 15 of the order says the EC can decide in favour of either faction or neither of them.
“When the Commission is satisfied… that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party the Commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing (their) representatives… and other persons as desire to be heard decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”
PARAMETERS FOR THE POLL BODY TO DECIDE
In case of a dispute, the ECI primarily gauges the support each faction enjoys both within the party’s organisation and its legislature wing.
It identifies the top committees and decision-making bodies within the political party and proceeds to know how many of its members or office-bearers back which faction. It then counts the number of MPs and MLAs in each faction.
In most of the recent cases, the poll body has gone by the choice of party office-bearers and elected representatives. If for some reason it cannot quantify the support within the organisation, it has solely relied on majority among the party’s MPs and MLAs.