The Madras High Court has delivered a split verdict in the disqualification case of 18 MLAs loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran. While Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the disqualification, Justice M Sundar quashed it on Thursday. The matter will now be heard by a third senior judge who will be nominated by Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh. There will be no floor test or fresh elections in 18 constituencies until the third judge decides on the case.
The split verdict has come as an interim relief to the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami as any possible threat to its stability has been averted for now. The bench was passing orders on petitions filed by the 18 MLAs challenging their disqualification by the Speaker under the anti-defection law.
Soon after the judgment was out, Dhinakaran accused the Palaniswami-led AIADMK government of being "anti-people" and said that the current government will only be able to run for a few more months, as reported by CNN-News18. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has taken a 10-day break and will reconvene on 25 June.
The disqualified MLAs are: Thangatamilselvan (Andipatti constituency), R Murugan (Harur), S Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai), K Karthirkamu (Periyakulam), C Jayanthi Padmanabhan (Gudiyattam), P Palaniappan (Pappireddipatti), V Senthilbalaji (Aravakurichi), S Muthiah (Paramakudi), P Vetrivel (Perambur), NG Parthiban (Sholingur), M Kothandapani (Tiruporur), TA Elumalai (Poonnamalee), M Rengasamy (Thanjavur), R Thangathurai (Nilakottai), R Balasubramani (Ambur), Ethirkottai SG Subramanian (Sattur), R Sundaraj (Ottapidaram) and K Uma Maheswari (Vilathikulam).
The ruling AIADMK has a strength of 116 MLAs excluding the Speaker but including S Karunaas (Mukkulathor Pulipadai), M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) and U Thaniyarasu (Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai), who had won on the ruling party's two leaves symbol in 2016 polls.
While 18 MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran were disqualified, the DMK has 89 MLAs, its allies Congress 8 and the IUML one in the 234-member strong House. Dhinakaran got elected from RK Nagar last year and he is the lone independent member of the House.
The MLAs were disqualified after they had called on Tamil Nadu Governor expressing lack of confidence in the leadership of Palaniswami and seeking a change of guard. The MLAs had met the governor on 22 August, 2017, a day after then rival factions led by Palaniswami and his now deputy Panneerselvam merged their factions after deposing Dhinaknaran as the deputy general secretary.
During the hearing of the petitions which commenced on November 16, senior counsels for the respondents including the speaker, the chief whip, and the chief minister defended the disqualification of the MLAs.
The crux of their argument was that the MLAs had approached the governor with the intention to topple the government headed by Palaniswami and thereby attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 15:03 PM