As six suspended MLAs of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) have knocked the doors of the Madras High Court seeking a direction to allow them to vote in the June-27 Rajya Sabha polls from Tamil Nadu, the Election Commission sources made it clear that none could deny them their right to vote.
A senior official of the Commission pointed out that EC conducted election to the Upper House. As elected representatives of the Legislative Assembly and as voters in the poll, they had every right to exercise their franchise.
Former secretary-general of Lok Sabha P.D.T. Achary told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the order of the Speaker suspending them would apply only to the proceedings and their conduct inside the House and this had nothing to do with their right to vote in the RS poll.
“They have every right to vote under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and no one can deny them this right,” he said.
When asked whether the suspended MLAs could be denied entry, as the election was taking place within the Assembly precincts, Mr. Achary said this could not be done. The EC for convenience had fixed the venue there (inside Fort St.George in Chennai) and the Speaker had no jurisdiction over the venue, he said.
The six DMDK MLAs – V.C. Chandhira Kumar, P. Parthasarthi, T. Murugesan, K. Nallathambi, S. Senthilkumar and R. Arulselvam – filed a petition in the Madras High Court on Tuesday seeking direction from the court for allowing them to vote in the RS poll. They also challenged the order of the single judge of the High Court who had earlier dismissed their petition that questioned the Speaker’s order suspending them from the House.
The MLAs were suspended on March 25, 2013, for a year by Speaker P. Dhanapal, accepting the findings of the Assembly privileges committee and after getting the nod of the House, for allegedly assaulting their fellow MLA from Radhapuram Michael Rayappan, during the Assembly proceedings on February 8. Later, the punishment was reduced to six months by the House.