The Madras High Court on Sunday posted to November 2 the further hearing on pleas by 18 Tamil Nadu MLAs challenging their disqualification after the counsel for Chief Minister K Palaniswami sought time to reply to their additional affidavit and rejoinder. Justice K Ravichandra Baabu directed counsel on both sides to serve copies of replies and rejoinders to each other by October 23 and posted the matter for next month.
When the matter came up, senior counsel C S Vaidyanathan for the chief minister submitted they needed time to reply to the rejoinder and additional affidavit filed by the disqualified MLAs. The rejoinder was filed in response to the counter affidavit by the Legislative Assembly Secretary on behalf of Speaker P Dhanapal.
Assembly Secretary K Boopathy had contended in the counter that if the 18 disqualified MLAs, loyal to sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, had intentions to continue in the party, they would have approached it for redressing their grievance.
To this, the rejoinder said they had given interim replies on August 30 and September 5 seeking an opportunity to cross examine the chief whip and the chief minister which was denied and the “impugned order was passed in gross violation of principles of natural justice by the speaker”.
The rejoinder said requests for documents was neither rejected nor communicated to them thereby leaving no opportunity even to present whatever case they had. It said the order was based on “erroneous assumptions, surmises and conjectures”.
The disqualified MLAs also referred to the submission in the counter in which it was stated that notice was not issued to O Panneerselvam and 10 other MLAs for voting against the motion of confidence moved by Palaniswami because of a petition pending before the Election Commission.
“The pendency of the petition before the ECI has nothing to do with the disqualification and even assuming this was true then the same will be applicable to them also, to the dispute before the ECI,” the rejoinder said.
They prayed that the court should take serious note of their allegations against the speaker and allow their pleas. They had challenged their disqualification under the anti-defection law by the Speaker on September 18.