A two-judge bench of the Madras High Court Thursday delivered a split verdict after hearing the case against the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs for “anti-party activities”. The matter will now be heard by a third judge. The court has ordered that no floor test or bypolls can be conducted till its final order.
The court was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging Speaker P Dhanapal’s decision last September to disqualify the MLAs after they withdrew support to the AIADMK government led by Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam. The MLAs are backing independent MLA Dinakaran, who was sacked from AIADMK.
The AIADMK has 116 MLAs in the 234-seat House (including the Speaker). The Opposition has a strength of 98, including 89 MLAs of DMK, eight of Congress and one of the IUML. The disqualification of the MLAs has reduced the strength of the House to 216 members.
Madras High Court delivered a split verdict in the AIADMK MLA disqualification case. Read highlights in Tamil.
TTV reacts to split verdict
Reacting to the verdict, TTV Dinkaran says, "Only God knows how the same judge (CJ of Madras High court) delivers contradicting verdicts on two similar cases (18 MLAs disqualification in TN & 3 MLAs disqualification in Puducherry)."
Only God knows how the same judge (CJ of Madras High court) delivers contradicting verdicts on two similar cases (18 MLAs disqualification in TN & 3 MLAs disqualification in Puducherry), says @TTVDhinakaran reacting to split verdict from Madras HC. @IndianExpress— Arun Janardhanan (@arunjei) June 14, 2018
Split verdict: What next?
The split verdict was delivered by Chief Justice of Madras HC Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar. While the CJ upheld Speaker P Dhanapal's decision to disqualify the 18 MLAs loyal to TTV Dinkaran, Justice Sunder disagreed. A third judge, who will be now be appointed by the senior-most judge in the court, will hear the matter afresh.
What does this verdict mean?
The 18 MLAs still stand disqualified from the Assembly till the court's final verdict in the case. This is a setback for TTV Dinakaran, as the MLAs are from the faction of the AIADMK led by him. The court has also ordered that bypolls or a floor test cannot be conducted till it has delivered its final order. Meanwhile, this comes as relief for the EPS government, which is given more time to consolidate its position. The strength of the House is reduced to 216 with the suspension of the 18 MLAs. The ruling AIADMK faction remains in majority with 116 MLAs.
Justice Huluvadi Ramesh to nominate third judge
Justice Huluvadi Ramesh will nominate the third judge, who will hear the case as the Chief Justice was among the two who delivered a split verdict today.
Madras HC delivers split verdict
The Madras High Court has delivered a split verdict. This means the case will be referred to a larger bench. The 18 disqualified MLAs will not be able to attend sessions.
Chief Justice of Madras HC upholds TN Speaker’s order disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs, Justice Sundar disagrees, now a third judge to hear the case later, no bypolls or floortest until the final order. The case will continue @IndianExpress— Arun Janardhanan (@arunjei) June 14, 2018
Verdict likely any minute
The verdict is likely any minute. A two-judge bench, hearing the case, will deliver the judgment. Meanwhile, several of the disqualified MLAs are at TTV Dinakaran's residence waiting for the verdict. They have expressed confidence that the verdict will be in their favour.
OPS-EPS vs Dinakaran vs Opposition
The verdict will be delivered by a two-judge bench of the Madras HC. As we wait, here's a quick glance at the numbers in the 234-member House.
With 18 seats currently vacant, the House is down to 216 members. The ruling faction of the AIADMK has 116 MLAs, while the Opposition comprises 98 seats, including 89 MLAs of DMK, eight of Congress and one of the IUML. TTV Dinakaran was recently elected to the House after winning the RK Nagar bypolls as an Independent. There is one nominated MLA in the House.
Ongoing TN session breaks tomorrow
The ongoing Tamil Nadu Assembly session breaks tomorrow for a week. In case the court quashes the Speaker's decision, indicating a floor test in the House, the EPS-OPS faction will have enough time to plot its next move before the Assembly convenes again. This is one of the several sessions the 18 MLAs have missed due to the case in the court.
AIADMK MLA disqualification case: what has happened so far
Here's a quick recap of the case in court: The 18 MLAs disqualified had moved the Madras HC against the Speaker's decision. The court had stayed a floor test ordered in the House till its verdict. After hearing the case, the court had reserved its verdict in January. The judgment today comes nine months after the MLAs were disqualified. Stay tuned, we'll update you on the verdict as soon as its out.
Speaker Dhanapal, once disqualified as MLA amid faction feud in AIADMK
Dhanapal represents the Arunthathiyar community. He made headlines when he was appointed the first Dalit Speaker of the Assembly. Interestingly, three decades before he disqualified the 18 MLAs, Dhanapal had himself been disqualified under similar circumstances. Following the death of MGR in 1987, when multiple factions of the party emerged, the Speaker at the time had disqualified 33 MLAs of the Jayalalithaa faction. Dhanapal was among those disqualified. Read more here.
What are the likely outcomes of the verdict?
There are several likely outcomes today. If the If the court upholds the Speaker's decision, bypolls to the 18 seats will be held. If it quashes the disqualification, the government will face a floor test. If there's a split verdict, the matter is likely to be referred to a larger bench. Read our detailed report on this here.
What is the case?
The HC is hearing a batch of petitions challenging Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal's decision to disqualify 18 MLAs from the AIADMK faction led by TTV Dinakaran. The MLAs were disqualified last September, and have missed several sessions, including the ongoing Budget Session. The Speaker had disqualified the MLAs after they showed lack of confidence in the government, led by Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami.
In case you're confused, there are two factions of the AIADMK. The unified faction, which is at the helm of the government, is led by Palaniswami and his deputy, O Panneerselvam (the EPS-OPS duo). The rebel faction, to which these 18 MLAs belong, is led by Dinakaran. Dinakaran is also the nephew of outed AIADMK leader Sasikala.
Madras HC verdict likely at 1 pm
The Madras High Court is likely to deliver its verdict in the AIADMK MLA disqualification case this afternoon. The court had reserved its judgment in January. The case pertains to the disqualification of 18 MLAs for “anti-party activities”. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest news. The judgment is expected at 1 pm.