Tamil Nadu

Hearing begins on petition over CM’s confidence vote

Petitioner seeks to declare it unconstitutional, null and void

The Madras High Court on Wednesday began hearing a writ petition filed and argued in-person by an advocate, seeking to declare as unconstitutional, null and void a motion of confidence moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and passed on the floor of the Assembly on February 18, 2017.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose decided to go ahead with the hearing, even though Advocate General Vijay Narayan brought to their notice that similar cases filed by DMK leader M.K. Stalin and advocate K. Balu of the PMK had not been tagged with the present case.

In his arguments, the petitioner, K. Ravi, recalled the incidents that transpired after former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, 2016, and pointed out that the present Deputy Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam, had then assumed charge as Chief Minister right on the day of her death.

However, in February 2017, he resigned from the post. A couple of days later, he claimed to have signed the resignation letter under coercion. “It was unimaginable to hear a Chief Minister say that a resignation letter was taken from him under pressure,” the petitioner said. Thereafter, Jayalalithaa’s close aide V.K. Sasikala staked claim to become the Chief Minister and submitted a list of MLAs supporting her to the then Governor (in-charge). Immediately, Mr. Panneerselvam too staked claim to form the government. “Under these circumstances, over 120 MLAs were taking a holiday and staying in a resort,” he added.

‘Chaos in Assembly’

Pointing out that there was complete pandemonium in the Assembly on the day the motion of confidence was passed, the petitioner said the entire exercise was a farce since the MLAs had not voted of their own free will and their act of staying in a resort when the State was facing political turmoil was not what could be expected from elected representatives.

He claimed that the legislators could not claim immunity for the proceedings held in the Assembly on February 18 since only a ‘no confidence motion’ and not a ‘motion of confidence’ could be termed as a part of the Assembly proceedings. “Just because the majority was proved inside the Assembly, it would not become a part of the Assembly proceedings.”

“The Governor could have ascertained the majority even by counting heads at the Raj Bhavan, but he chose to ask the CM to prove his majority in the Assembly. Therefore, the motion of confidence declared to have been passed in the Assembly could very well be interfered with by this court,” Mr. Ravi argued.

Since he could not complete his submissions, the judges adjourned the case for further hearing to April 12.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 8:46:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hearing-begins-on-petition-over-cms-confidence-vote/article23437957.ece

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