Undaunted by the Madras High Court verdict which upheld the Tamil Nadu Speaker's decision to disqualify them as MLAs under the anti-defection law for having sided with expelled leader and AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran, the former 18 AIADMK MLAs have on Friday decided to approach the Supreme Court to try and regain their status.
Thanga Tamilselvan, one of the disqualified MLAs and a staunch supporter of sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, said the decision was "unanimous" and accepted with "joy" by all the 18 MLAs. The decision was taken after a discussion between the disqualified legislators and Dhinakaran in Madurai.
"It has been decided that we will go in for an appeal to show to the world that what the Speaker has done is a mistake. We are going to appeal in the Supreme Court," he told reporters.
In September 2017, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs under the 1986 Tamil Nadu Assembly Members Party Defection Law triggering a political crisis in the state after they announced their support for rebel Dhinakaran. Post their disqualification, the lawmakers then met the then governor C Vidyasagar Rao, expressing no confidence in Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, and asked for his removal.
Alleging mala fide intention by the Speaker, the rebel MLAs had moved the Madras High Court to reinstate them.
While the ruling AIADMK hailed the verdict as a "good" one, its rival DMK urged the Election Commission to immediately kick-start the process for holding by-polls. Dhinakaran, though at the receiving end of the verdict, denied it was a setback to his camp and termed it as an 'experience,' which was lampooned by chief minister K Palaniswami.
"It is a good verdict, secured with the blessings of our leaders, MGR (the late MG Ramachandran) and Amma (J Jayalalithaa)," Palaniswami, also the AIADMK Joint Coordinator said. Dhinakaran, on his part, said: "We expected a favourable verdict but it is not a setback. I will consult the 18 MLAs on whether to file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Personally, my feeling is we should go for by-elections."
Dhinakaran asserted his loyalists will sweep the bypolls. "The court's judgment is different and people's judgment is different," he said, claiming his party and those loyal to it will emerge stronger after the verdict.
The chief minister said the ruling party was prepared to face elections. "The 18 seats have now fallen vacant. AIADMK will contest and win all of them," he said. Asked about Dhinakaran's contention that Thursday's verdict was an 'experience' for him, Palaniswami shot back saying, "I don't know what kind of experience is this."
A division bench of the court comprising Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had delivered a split verdict on 14 June. Banerjee had upheld Speaker P Dhanapal's order disqualifying them, while Sundar had passed a dissenting judgement. The Supreme Court had then appointed Justice M Sathyanarayanan to hear the matter.
Justice Sathyanarayanan on Thursday said there was no infirmity in Dhanapal's order which was upheld by Banerjee. "All the material that was available at the time of the passing of the order by the Speaker alone have been taken into consideration and this court cannot go into the subsequent events," the judge observed, upholding the disqualification. The judge said he had delivered his "independent view" on the matter and not gone by those expressed by the two judges who heard it earlier.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 26, 2018 15:08 PM