Nine months after 18 AIADMK MLAs were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal for “anti-party” activities, the two-judge bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict on petitions challenging the order. The case will be now referred to a third judge who will weigh in on the matter.
Chief Justice Indira Banerjee ruled in favour of the Speaker’s decision, while Justice Sundar was against it. As the Chief Justice differed with her brother judge, Justice Huluvadi Ramesh will nominate the third judge as she was part of the split order. This means the case would be heard fresh and status quo would be maintained until the next verdict.
Regardless of the outcome, the case is likely to be appealed before the Supreme Court who will have the final say on the matter.
Thursday’s verdict gives the E Palaniswami-led AIADMK some wriggle room to try and bring the rebel MLAs on board unless they want fresh polls for the 18 constituencies. The Dinakaran faction, which was hoping the court would quash the disqualification order, will wait for the final court order before deciding on the next step.
Why were the MLAs disqualified?
The MLAs in question met Tamil Nadu Governor in-charge C Vidyasagar Rao last August and submitted letters withdrawing their support to CM Palaniswami. This prompted Chief Government Whip S Rajendiran to appeal before Speaker Dhanapal to disqualify the MLAs, saying their actions amounted to voluntarily giving up their party membership. Dhanapal suspended the MLAs using his powers under Schedule 10 of the Constitution.
Who are the disqualified MLAs?
Thangatamilselvan, R. Murugan, S. Mariappan Kennedy, K. Karthirkamu , C. Jayanthi Padmanabhan, P. Palaniappan, V. Senthilbalaji, S. Muthiah , P. Vetrivel, N.G. Parthiban, M. Kothandapani , T.A. Elumalai, M. Rengasamy, R. Thangathurai, R. Balasubramani, Ethirkottai S.G. Subramanian, R. Sundaraj and K. Uma Maheswari.