Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu MLAs’ disqualification case verdict today

They had withdrawn support to CM

The Madras High Court will on Thursday deliver its crucial verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 dissident AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to AMMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran.

The verdict, to be delivered by a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar, could alter the political course in Tamil Nadu, where the Edappadi K. Palaniswami government has fallen short of a simple majority in the House. The Assembly has an approved strength of 234 (excluding a nominated Anglo Indian member).

The court had reserved verdict in the case on January 23.

On September 18, 2017, Speaker P. Dhanapal had disqualified the 18 MLAs by exercising his powers under the 10th schedule to the Constitution (popularly known as the anti-defection law) and the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection) Rules of 1986.

The trigger for the disqualification proceedings was the meeting between the 18 petitioners (apart from one more MLA S.T.K. Jakkaiyan, who subsequently joined the ruling camp) and the then Governor (in-charge) C. Vidyasagar Rao on August 22, 2017, when the former gave identical representations to him “withdrawing their support” to the Chief Minister.

The meeting and subsequent press briefing by the MLAs prompted Chief Government Whip S. Rajendiran to petition the Speaker on August 24, praying for the disqualification of all 19 MLAs, saying their actions amounted to voluntarily giving up their membership of the AIADMK.

In their defence, the petitioners contended that mere submission of representations to the Governor would not amount to voluntarily giving up membership of the party. They also heavily relied upon a judgement passed by the Supreme Court in Balchandra L Jarkiholi versus B.S.Yeddiyurappa in 2011.

However, after receiving the comments of the Chief Minister and after completing the enquiry, the Speaker held that 18 out of the 19 MLAs were liable to be disqualified. Mr. Jakkaiyyan alone was let off since he met the speaker in person on September 17 and handed over a letter claiming that he was pressured to submit the representation to the Governor.

Thangatamilselvan (Andipatti constituency), R. Murugan (Harur), S. Mariappan Kennedy (Manamadurai), K. Karthirkamu (Periyakulam), C. Jayanthi Padmanabhan (Gudiyattam), P. Palaniappan (Pappireddipatti), V. Senthilbalaji (Aravakurichi), S. Muthiah (Paramakudi), P. Vetrivel (Perambur), N.G. Parthiban (Sholingur), M. Kothandapani (Tiruporur), T.A. Elumalai (Poonnamalee), M. Rengasamy (Thanjavur), R. Thangathurai (Nilakottai), R. Balasubramani (Ambur), Ethirkottai S.G. Subramanian (Sattur), R. Sundaraj (Ottapidaram) and K. Uma Maheswari (Vilathikulam) were disqualified.

They challenged the Speaker’s decision in the court. Initially, Justice M. Duraiswamy heard the writ petitions along with a few other cases including a writ petition filed by DMK leader M.K. Stalin seeking a direction to hold a floor test, and passed an interim order on September 20 restraining the conduct of floor test and also elections to the 18 constituencies, that fell vacant in view of the disqualifications, until further orders.

Subsequently, the cases got shifted to Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu, on account of change of portfolio, who in November last referred all the cases to a Division Bench in view of the constitutional issues involved in them. It was only thereafter that the matters were heard by the first Division Bench over a period of three months before the verdict was reserved.

How the numbers stack up

The ruling AIADMK has 116 members in the Assembly; the DMK – 89; the Congress – 8; Independent – 1 (T.T.V. Dhinakaran); besides the Speaker. There are 18 vacancies, and one nominated member (who is not eligible to vote).

Of the AIADMK legislators, three – E. Rathinasabapathy (Aranthangi), V.T. Kalaiselvan (Vridhachalam) and A. Prabhu (Kallakurichi) – have declared their support to Mr. Dhinakaran. Besides, three others – S. Karunaas (Tiruvadanai), Thamimun Ansari (Nagapattinam) and U. Thaniyarasu (Kangeyam) – were elected on the AIADMK ticket, despite being leaders of the Mukkolathor Pulippadai, the Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi and the Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai respectively. The trio have not spelled out their political loyalties in clear terms.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 21, 2020 10:01:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mlas-disqualification-case-verdict-today/article24157584.ece

Next Story