The Madras High Court delivered a split verdict on the petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to TTV Dhinakaran, the sidelined leader of the ruling party. With the matter now being reffered to the larger bench, the MLAs will remain disqualified.
In the current 216-member assembly, the ruling combine is safely placed with 117 MLAs and on the other side, the DMK has 89 MLAs, its allies Congress 8 and the IUML one in the house. While, Dhinakaran, who got elected from RK Nagar last year is the lone independent member of the House.
The bench of Madras HC Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had reserved the verdict on January 23 on the petitions by the 18 MLAs challenging their disqualification by the assembly speaker under the anti-defection law.
Opposition DMK has been claiming that with the disqualification of the MLAs, the Palaniswami government had been reduced to a minority.
The ruling AIADMK has a strength of 116 MLAs excluding the Speaker but including S Karunaas (Mukkulathor Pulipadai), M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) and U Thaniyarasu (Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai), who had won on the ruling party’s two leaves symbol in 2016 polls.
The MLAs were disqualified after they had called on Tamil Nadu Governor expressing lack of confidence in the leadership of Palaniswami and seeking a change of guard.
The hearing of the petitions commenced on November 16, where the counsels for the respondents including the speaker, the chief whip, and the chief minister defended the disqualification of the MLAs.
The crux of their argument was that the MLAs had approached the governor with the intention to topple the government headed by Palaniswami and thereby attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law.
Senior counsels Abhishek Singhvi and P S Raman who had appeared for the petitioners among others argued that the disqualification of the 18 MLAs was a premeditated ambush. The Speaker’s orders were based on irrelevant considerations, ignoring relevant considerations, which was malice in law, Singhvi had contended.
(With inputs from PTI)