Thursday 20 January 2022
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AIADMK MLA disqualification: Madras HC delivers split verdict

The split verdict has come as a big relief to the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami as any possible threat to its stability has been averted for now

Chennai: In a major to the Palaniswami government, the two-judge bench of the Madras High Court Thursday delivered a split verdict after hearing the case against the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs for “anti-party activities”. The matter will now be heard by a third judge. The court has ordered that no floor test or bypolls can be conducted till its final order.
 In the keenly-awaited judgement, Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the 18 September last order of Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualifying the MLAs, while Justice M Sundar disagreed with her and struck it down. The senior-most judge after her will decide the third judge who would hear the matter afresh, Justice Banerjee said.

 

The split verdict has come as a big to the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami as any possible threat to its stability has been averted for now.

The AIADMK has 116 MLAs in the 234-seat House (including the Speaker). The Opposition has a strength of 98, including 89 MLAs of DMK, eight of Congress and one of the IUML. The disqualification of the MLAs has reduced the strength of the House to 216 members.

The bench was passing orders on petitions filed by the 18 MLAs loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran, who approached the then governor Vidyasagar Rao with a letter expressing lack of confidence in chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, were disqualified by the speaker P Dhanapal citing the anti-defection law.

The MLAs were disqualified on 22 August last year. The constituencies of the 18 legislators have remained vacant since then.

Nineteen MLAs backing Dhinakaran met Rao on 22 August and withdrew support to the Palaniswami government, prompting government whip S Rajendran to call for them to be disqualified. Then, within few weeks, STK Jakkaiyan, one of the 19 MLAs, switched back to the chief minister’s camp.

In April, the Madras High Court had dismissed petitions to disqualify 11 AIADMK MLAs, including Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, for having voted against chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami during a motion of confidence in February last year.

The first bench of chief justice Indira Banerjee and justice Abdul Quddhose had then observed that the court cannot interfere with the powers of the speaker.

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