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Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to seek suspension of Shinde faction may not stand test of law

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New Delhi, Jun 24: The Uddhav Thackeray faction sought the disqualification of 12 Shiv Sena MLAs aligned to Eknath Shinde. This was sought on the ground that they missed a key meeting of the Shiv Sena amidst the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra.

Shinde however hit back and called this a made up law. He said that a disqualification cannot be sought for before the deputy speaker on the ground that MLAs did not attend a party meeting. Citing the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution he said that a whip is applicable only to assembly proceedings and not party meetings.

Uddhav Thackeray

With the support of 37 of the 55 MLAs, the Eknath Shinde faction are protected against the anti-defection law. His faction is in a position now to seek to be recognised as the real Shiv Sena. Additionally this faction can also write to the Election Commission of India seeking the party symbol.

A whip is issued by the leader of the legislature party. The question is with Uddhav Thackeray having just 13 MLAs in his fold can his faction issue the whip. The rebels have declared Eknath Shinde as their leader and going by the numbers, this faction has the right to issue the whip once the deputy speaker recognised them as the real Shiv Sena.

However the bigger question is whether the deputy speaker can suspend the 12 MLAs because they disobeyed a whip and did not attend a party meeting? A whip is an official of a political party who acts ass the party's enforcer inside the legislative assembly or in the parliament. A party appoints a senior member to issue whips and this member is known as a chief whip.

If a whip is disobeyed then disqualification proceedings can be initiated against the member. This however will not be applicable unless the number of lawmakers defying the whip is 2/3rd of the party's strength in the house. These proceedings are decided by the speaker or deputy speaker of the house.

Whips however cannot be issued in Presidential elections. In these elections a Member of Parliament of Member of the Legislative Assembly cannot be directed to vote in a particular fashion.

There are three kinds of whips. The one line whip is issued to inform members of a party about a vote and it allows a member to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.

A two line whip is issued to direct members to be present in the house at the time of voting. A three line whip is issued to members directing to vote as per the line that the party has taken.

Hence the decision by the Uddhav faction to seek disqualification on the ground that a party meeting was not attended may not stand the test of the law. The Shinde's faction has a 2/3rd majority and hence the anti-defection law will not be applicable. Moreover there is nowhere where it is stated that a whip can be issued to attend a party meeting.

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