PIL challenges Shiv Sena's move to join BJP Government in Maharashtra

A day when Shiv Sena formally joined the BJP Government in Maharashtra, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the saffron party's "illegal" move.

Shiv Sena, which until yesterday was main Opposition party in Maharashtra Assembly, today became part of the BJP-led Government in the State. Ten Sena legislators joined the Council of Ministers headed by Devendra Fadnavis.

The Sena's move was against the House rules as members of an Opposition party cannot switch over to the treasury benches at least for six months after a trust vote is won, contended the PIL, filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar.

The PIL was mentioned by the petitioner before a Bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah, who decided to hear it on December 8.

The PIL prayed Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde and Chief Minister Fadnavis be directed to frame rules to prevent Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, Leader of Opposition till yesterday, from taking up Ministerial post for a period of six months.

The petition also sought a direction from the court to the respondents to bar the Opposition members from joining the ruling benches for a period of six months.

Last month, the BJP Government won confidence motion by a voice vote in the Assembly. At that time Shinde was Leader of Opposition.

The Sena has now joined the Government. This step was "not legal", the petitioner contended. Once a trust motion was passed in the Assembly, the Government was not required to prove its majority again for a period of six months, according to rules. Hence, a no-trust motion cannot be brought within six months from the date of earlier motion (November 12), said the petition.

The PIL said the ruling party cannot be unseated within the next six months. Similarly, an Opposition party can't change its status within the same period and switch over to the treasury benches, and that too for the sake of Cabinet berths.

Meanwhile, a single Bench of the HC today declined to hear another petition, also filed by Tirodkar, challenging the Assembly Speaker's decision to go in for a voice vote instead of a division of votes (head count) during the trust motion.

"Not before me", said Justice Vijaya Tahilramani. The petition would now come up for hearing on December 8 before the Bench headed by Chief Justice Shah.

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