Setback for Dinakaran, Madras HC upholds disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs
Madras, Oct 25: The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld the Speaker's decision to disqualify the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs.The verdict means the by-elections will be held to the 18 seats represented by the MLAs, but the E Palanisamy government at present stays above the halfway mark of 116.
Justice M Sathyanarayanan delivered the verdict after the legislators had challenged their disqualification last year.
While the disqualification order against the AIADMK MLAs being upheld means the Palanisamy government will be 'safe' in the short term, it will only be perceived as temporary relief as bypolls will need to be held for all 18 seats as well as two others (on account of legislators dying in office) within six months. If the DMK or T.T.V. Dhinakaran's candidates win most of the 20 seats going to bypolls, the AIADMK government would be reduced to a minority.
On September 18, 2017, Speaker P. Dhanapal had disqualified the 18 MLAs by exercising his powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (popularly known as anti-defection law) and the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection) Rules of 1986.
On June 14, a division bench of the Madras High Court had given a split verdict on petitions challenging the disqualification of these MLAs, a ruling that maintained status quo in the corridors of power in Tamil Nadu.
The court had then said that the senior-most judge after the high court's Chief Justice would hand-pick a third judge, who will hear the matter afresh. Following this, Justice S Vimala of the high court was appointed as the third judge to hear the matter.
The petitioners had then approached the apex court seeking transfer of their pleas from the high court claiming that there was apprehension of "bias". The Supreme Court then assigned the case to Justice Sathyanarayanan. He had reserved the verdict in August after hearing the matter.