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In relief for EPS govt, Madras HC upholds disqualification of 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs

Justice M Sathyanarayanan, who was appointed a judge in the case by the Supreme Court after the Madras HC gave a split verdict in June, heard the pleas of both the parties and found no infirmity in the order of the Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 25, 2018 3:00:35 pm
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam with CM E K Palaniswami. (File) Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam with CM E K Palaniswami. (File)

In a reprieve for the AIADMK government, the Madras High Court Thursday upheld the Tamil Nadu Speaker’s decision to disqualify its 18 rebel MLAs who were expelled from the Assembly under the anti-defection law last year.

Justice M Sathyanarayanan, who was appointed a judge in the case by the Supreme Court after the Madras HC gave a split verdict in June, heard the pleas of both the parties and found no infirmity in the order of the Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal. “All the material that was available at the time of passing the order by the Speaker alone have been taken into consideration and this court cannot go into the subsequent events,” Justice Sathyanarayanan observed while upholding the MLAs’ disqualification. Follow LIVE UPDATES here.

The rebels, supporting the Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction, were expelled by the Speaker under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution (known as the anti-defection law) after the former expressed lack of confidence in Chief Minister E Palaniswami last year. The rebels later moved a petition in the HC challenging the Speaker’s decision following which the court restrained the Election Commission from declaring their seats vacant.

Welcoming the court’s verdict today, the AIADMK, in a tweet, said it is a “correct lesson for the traitors and that democracy has won”. T T V Dinakaran, speaking to ANI, said that the next course of action would be decided following a meeting with the rebel MLAs. “It is not a setback for us. This is an experience, we will face the situation. The future course of action will be decided after meeting with the 18 MLAs,” he told the news agency.

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In June this year, the Madras High Court had delivered a split verdict with Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upholding the disqualification order. Justice Sundar, however, had quashed the Speaker’s decision.

The 18 disqualified MLAs of the AIADMK later moved the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of their petition from Madras HC. Refusing to transfer the matter to itself, the Supreme Court later appointed Justice M Sathyanarayan to hear and decide the case. “We consider it appropriate to assign the case on the difference of opinion to Justice M Sathyanarayanan. He will hear the matter and decide it,” the apex court had said.

Besides the constituencies of the disqualified MLAs, the Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundram seats had fallen vacant following the death of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK’s A K Bose respectively. The current strength of the Tamil Nadu Assembly is 216 out of 234. While AIADMK has 116 MLAs, including the Speaker, the Opposition has 98 MLAs.

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