The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld Tamil Nadu speaker's decision to disqualify 18 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) MLAs for “anti-party activities” in 2017. With this verdict, the high court has cleared the path for by-elections in the 18 constituencies previously held by the disqualified MLAs.
What's the case about?
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 AIADMK leader TTV 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.
The split verdict
After hearing the matter, a bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had delivered a split verdict on 14 June.
While Banerjee upheld the Speaker's decision Sundar disagreed. In her 200-page order, the chief justice had upheld the Speaker's decision, saying, "In my opinion, the view taken by the Speaker is a possible, if not plausible view, and I am unable to hold that the said decision is any way unreasonable, irrational or perverse."
Justice Sundar, in his 135-page order, had disagreed, insisting that Dhanapal's order "deserved to be set aside on grounds of perversity, non-compliance with principles of natural justice, mala fides and violation of the constitutional mandate".
Following the split verdict, Justice S Vimala was appointed to hear the petitions afresh. However, the disqualified MLAs moved the SC raising apprehension of "bias" and sought to transfer the matter to the apex court. The SC had then named Justice Sathyanarayanan, while declining to accept a prayer of the disqualified MLAs to move the case to the SC. Sathyanarayanan had reserved his orders on 31 August, after 12 days of a meticulous hearing. The case was listed for judgment late on Wednesday night.
Political significance of verdict
The verdict is being watched closely in political circles in the state since it has the potential to decide the future course of Tamil Nadu politics. With the high court upholding the disqualification, by-elections will be held for the 18 constituencies. There will be another trust vote, but with the strength of the Tamil Nadu Assembly reducing to 215, the AIADMK has enough numbers in the bag to feel secure.
The verdict also means that Palaniswami will also cement his position as the leader of AIADMK's and will be in a better position to bargain with the BJP in case alliance talks are held for the elections, reported India Today.
Who are the MLAs
The disqualified MLAs include: S Thangatamilselvan (Andipatti), R Murugan (Harur), S Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai), K Kadirkamu (Periyakulam), Jayanthi Padmanabhan (Gudiyattam), P Palaniappan (Pappireddypatti), V Senthil Balaji (Aravakurichi), S Muthiah (Paramakudi), P Vetrivel (Perambur), NG Pathiban (Sholingur), M Kodandapani (Tiruporur), TA Elumalai (Poonamallee), M Rengasamy (Thanjavur), R Thangadurai (Nilakottai), R Balasubramani (Ambur), SG Subramanian (Sattur), R Sundaraj (Ottapidaram) and Uma Maheswari (Vilathikulam).
In fact, recently four more MLAs who contested on the AIADMK ticket have also pledged their support to TTV Dinakaran. One of them, Karunas, had sent a notice to the secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly, seeking the removal of Speaker P Dhanapal. Meanwhile, AMMK chief Dinakaran has instructed all but one of the 18 disqualified MLAs in his camp to move to a resort near the Tirunelveli district.
According to a News18 report, all the rebel MLAs barring P Vetrivel are likely to remain holed up at a resort in Courtallam until the verdict comes out. The decision to shift the disqualified legislators came just hours after Dinakaran met Sasikala at Bengaluru prison amid reports that the E Palanisami and O Panneerselvam government is trying to poach the MLAs loyal to Dinakaran.
Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 15:03 PM