Tamil Nadu

HC reserves verdict on writ filed by DMK MLAs

The Madras High Court on Friday reserved its judgment on writ petitions filed by DMK president M.K. Stalin and 17 of his party MLAs challenging the breach of privilege proceedings initiated against them for displaying gutkha sachets in the Assembly on July 19, 2017, to substantiate their claim of the banned substance being available freely in petty shops.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy deferred their verdict after hearing senior counsel R. Shunmugasundaram, N.R. Elango and Amit Anand Tewari for the petitioners as well as Advocate General Vijay Narayan and senior counsel A.L. Somayaji for the Assembly Secretary and Privileges Committee respectively.

Though the proceedings were initiated against 21 DMK MLAs and all of them had approached the High Court, two (K.P.P. Samy and J. Anbazhagan) died and one more (Ku.Ka. Selvam) was dismissed from the party and hence not represented by any counsel before the High Court. Mr. Shunmugasundaram said he had no instructions to appear for Mr. Selvam.

‘Decorum is must’

In his submissions, Mr. Somayaji said the Speaker had every right to insist upon the members to maintain decorum and decency by desisting from bringing inside the House a substance that had been banned in the entire State. It was sufficient for the members to highlight the issue of alleged sale of banned substance. They need not display them in the House, he said.

Right decision by Speaker

“Suppose if the members want to oppose increase in excise duty on chappals and shoes, can they carry the chappals and shoes in their hands and display them in the House? Such acts amount to breach of privilege. Therefore, the Speaker rightly referred the issue to the Committee after expressing his prima facie opinion,” senior counsel said.

On his part, the A-G said though the privileges of the House had not been codified, they must be understood in terms of the customs and practices followed for long. “I have been given the privilege to argue before your Lordships, but if I smoke a cigarette while arguing the case, then it amounts to breach of the privilege granted to me as a lawyer,” he told the Bench.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 8:30:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-reserves-verdict-on-writ-filed-by-dmk-mlas/article32359725.ece

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