Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a PIL challenging the change of guard in Tamil Nadu with the swearing in of Panneerselvam as Chief Minister after AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa was convicted in an illegal assets case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan dismissed the PIL filed by an advocate, Prabhakaran, observing that he had no locus standi.
The petitioner had contended that Jayalalithaa, sentenced to four years imprisonment by a Bangalore court attracting disqualification as MLA under Representation of Peoples Act, had not attracted disqualification (as Chief Minister) and Panneerselvam taking oath as CM was usurpation of office.
Disqualification as a member of assembly would only result in the person losing the membership of the legislature and not the ministership, he had submitted.
The Supreme Court judgement (on disqualification) must be distinguished as being inapplicable to the ministers but being applicable only to the MLAs MPs and MLCs since according to the Constitution, the post of Chief Minister or the Prime Minister was different from that of membership of legislature.
The two posts are kept under separate chapter – Executive and not under Legislature – in the Constitution, he argued.
He also alleged the state Governor failed to act in consonant with the Constitutional provision as pronounced by the Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court wherein it had been stated that the Governor must obtain the opinion of Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion in matters of disqualification.
In the present case, the Governor did not consult anybody, no disqualification process was set in motion and no report was sent to the Centre or the President. Instead, in a “hurried manner without any due process of law” he had administered the oath of office to Pannerselvam.
The petitioner had prayed for a direction to declare Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister based on the oath of Secrecy taken by her on May 16, 2014.