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Speaker rubbishes allegation of acting in cahoots with CM

Says action against MLAs supporting Dhinakaran was taken as per rules

December 19, 2017 12:47 am | Updated 04:27 pm IST - CHENNAI

NAGAPATTINAM, TAMIL NADU, 25/09/2017: Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal at the MGR centenary celebrations in Nagapattinam. 
Photo: A. Muralitharan

NAGAPATTINAM, TAMIL NADU, 25/09/2017: Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal at the MGR centenary celebrations in Nagapattinam. Photo: A. Muralitharan

Tamil Nadu Speaker P. Dhanapal on Monday rubbished claims of collusion between him and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on the issue of disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to sidelined leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, and claimed that he had sought the CM’s comments only as per the requirements of the law on the subject.

The submission was made before Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar during the hearing on cases challenging the disqualification.

Arguing for the Speaker, senior counsel C. Aryama Sundaram said the petitioners had taken objection to his client having called for comments from the CM before disqualifying them and termed it as collusion.

He pointed out that Section 7(3)(b) of the Members of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules of 1986 requires the Speaker to call for comments from the leader of the legislature party to which the members sought to be disqualified belong to, and therefore, he had called for comments from the Chief Minister.

Further, stating that the law does not require copies of such comments to be provided to the MLAs concerned, Mr. Sundaram said that despite the absence of a legal prescription, the Speaker served copies of the CM’s comments on the MLAs and that itself was enough proof to establish that he had been very fair in conducting the inquiry under the anti-defection rules.

Interjecting during the argument, the Chief Justice, with reference to the petitioners’ argument that they were not given an opportunity to cross-examine either the Chief Minister or the staff attached to the latter’s office, asked: “You need not give the copies [of CM’s comments] but having given it, should you not follow the principles of natural justice?”

Replying to it, Mr. Sundaram said it was the MLAs who had made a positive assertion before the Speaker that they did try to meet the Chief Minister on many occasions before approaching the Governor expressing no confidence in him. The CM had merely denied their assertion in the comments submitted to the Speaker.

“It is for the man making a positive averment of fact to prove it and not for the CM to prove his denial. They cannot prove their case by cross-examining the CM. They have to prove it on their own by leading evidence which they did not do despite granting repeated adjournments,” senior counsel contended.

After arguing the case for the entire day, Mr. Sundaram said he would continue the arguments on Tuesday and complete them by afternoon. Thereafter, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan would begin his submissions on behalf of the CM followed by a reply by senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and P.S. Raman representing the petitioners.

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