Tamil Nadu

Disqualification case hearing focusses on status of AIADMK

Did the party exist when the proceedings were held last year, asks judge

The hearing on the 18 AIADMK MLAs’ disqualification case gathered steam on Tuesday — the second day of arguments — with Justice M. Sathyanarayanan, the third judge of the Madras High Court dealing with the case in view of a split verdict delivered by two judges on June 14, raising several pointed questions. His questions revolved around the issue of whether the AIADMK existed as an entity when the disqualification proceedings were held between August 24 and September 18 last year.

During the course of his day-long arguments, senior counsel Mohan Parasaran, representing 12 of the 18 disqualified MLAs, questioned how Chief Government Whip S. Rajendiran could have lodged a complaint against them to the Speaker on a letter head of the AIADMK on August 24. He pointed out that the Election Commission had frozen the party’s name, AIADMK, as well as its ‘two leaves’ symbol on March 22, 2017, and that order was in operation till November 23, 2017.

Contrary to the usage of the AIADMK letter head by the complainant, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had offered his comments, in his capacity as the leader of the legislature party, to the Speaker on August 30 on a letter head which read: AIADMK (Amma, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma). “This makes it crystal clear that the original AIADMK had gone into eclipse during that period. Therefore, the question of defecting from that party would not arise at all,” Mr. Parasaran contended.

However, the judge pointed out that the Chief Minister had used a letter head to indicate that he represented both the factions or groups. “In a sense, he probably wanted to claim it is the real AIADMK,” the judge said. Making a short intervention at this juncture, senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, representing Mr. Palaniswami, said even the 18 MLAs had identified themselves as AIADMK members during the entire proceedings, and therefore, it was farcical to question the existence of the AIADMK as an entity.

AIADMK candidates

Immediately, senior counsel P.S. Raman, representing six of the disqualified MLAs, said his clients had identified themselves as AIADMK members because they had been elected to the Assembly as candidates of that party. It was then that the judge posed a significant question: “Assuming a trust vote had to be conducted during that period, is it your case that the Assembly could not have been convened at all until the Election Commission decided the dispute finally?”

Mr. Parasaran answered it in the negative. “The floor test could have been held dehors the Election Commission proceedings,” he replied. When the judge wanted to know whether the issue of the party being in suspended animation was raised before the Speaker during the disqualification proceedings, the senior counsel said it was, and the Speaker had specifically rejected it by stating that the reference to the EC proceedings was a “futile attempt.”

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:42:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/disqualification-case-hearing-focusses-on-status-of-aiadmk/article24506981.ece

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