While hearing the plea of 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs challenging their disqualification by Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker P Dhanapal, the Madras High Court on Wednesday extended its stay order on a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Assembly till further directions. It also directed that no bypolls will be held to the seats vacated by the disqualified MLAs of TTV Dhinakaran camp. The next date of hearing has been set for 4 October.
Madras HC directs no election notification to seats of 18 disqualified MLAs. No stay on the disqualification. Case adjourned to 4 October .
— ANI (@ANI) September 20, 2017
However, there has been no stay on the disqualification of the MLAs. The judge had on 14 September ordered that there will be no floor test till Wednesday. While Dushyant Dave and Salman Khurshid were representing the rebel MLAs, Mukul Rohatgi was appearing for the Tamil Nadu government. Beginning his argument, Dave said that the disqualification of the rebel AIADMK MLAs is against natural justice, News18 reported. The lawyer argued that the MLAs were not opposed to the government but only to Chief Minister E Palaniswamy because he is "corrupt".
The disqualified MLAs only demanded a change in the chief minister and because they did not switch party, anti-defection law grounds are not strong, Dhinakaran's lawyer said. He further said that the speaker has misused this law. Dave ended his argument by saying that the MLAs were not given enough time to explain their position.
The Speaker had disqualified the MLAs on a petition by the chief whip who sought action against them for giving letters to the Speaker on 22 August stating that they were withdrawing support to the chief minister.
"The order is mala fide. The rule clearly says if an MLA voluntarily gives up his membership of a party he will lose the Assembly membership. But these members have not quit the party. The letter which was given to the governor does not attract disqualification," Dave argued.
The letters only stated that the dream and vision of late party supremo Jayalalithaa was not being implemented by the chief minister, the counsel said.
He further pointed out no notice was issued to 12 MLAs including the then rebel leader O Panneerselvam who voted against the present chief minister, till date and he had now been made the deputy chief minister.
"It may be the thought of the Speaker that the present chief minister may succeed if a floor test is conducted with disqualification of these MLAs... This is mala fide," Dave submitted.
This was strongly opposed by senior counsel Aryama Sundaram appearing on behalf of the Speaker.
"The facts of (former Karnataka chief minister BS) Yeddyurappa case are entirely different from this case," he said.
Counsel Vaithyanathan, appearing for the chief minister, submitted that there was no need for elaborate arguments on the main plea (of Stalin) as the chief minister has not sought a floor test.
The governor's counsel Rakesh Trivedi submitted that the Assembly stands prorogued as of Wednesday and the chief minister had not so far sought for a floor test.
Dave then submitted that the last part of the disqualification order says the 18 seats have become vacant and the Election Commission might notify elections to them.
"Once election process is commenced the court cannot interfere so I need a protection," he said.
Speaking to CNN-News18, AIADMK leader of Dhinakaran camp Apsara Reddy, said that Panneerselvam-Palaniswamy camp is working at the behest of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Lawyers representing DMK also argued that no floor test should be held until the case is disposed of.
Eight of the 18 MLAs had moved the court on Tuesday, challenging the action against them under the anti-defection law.
The dissident MLAs condemned the Speaker's order as 'unauthorised' and 'illegal' in their individual petitions.
The petitioners also sought to restrain the Speaker, government chief whip S Rajendran, Palaniswamy and the Assembly secretary from interfering with their rights as elected representatives.
The other ten disqualified MLAs filed their petitions Wednesday morning. The judge had on Tuesday agreed for an urgent hearing if petitions were filed.
With the disqualification of the 18 MLAs, the 234-member assembly has only 215 elected members with one seat being vacant already.
The government needs 108 votes to prove its majority in the assembly now in case of a floor test.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 20, 2017 19:30 PM