Six options before the TN Governor once SC delivers the Jaya DA case verdict

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Bengaluru, Feb 14: The focus would shift back to the governor of Tamil Nadu once the verdict in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case is delivered by the Supreme Court of India at 10.30 am on Tuesday. The governor will have to consider a host of options depending on what the Supreme Court has to say.

A timeline of the Jayalalithaa DA case: 1996 to 2016

On Monday, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi advised the governor to hold a composite floor test giving both Sasikala and O Panneerselvam a chance to prove their majority on the floor of the House. In a composite floor test, all members would have to cast a secret ballot indicating which candidate they would support. All members would have to compulsorily sign on the ballot paper with their names before casting the same.

What options does TN Governor have?

Governor's options

  • If the Supreme Court convicts Sasikala then she will be barred from taking over as chief minister. Under the Representation of People's Act, a convicted person is barred from contesting an election for six years. The governor would then have to tell only Panneerselvam to test his strength on the floor of the house.
  • If the SC orders an acquittal, then Sasikala can stake a claim to become CM. Since there are two claimants to the chair, then the governor would go by the advise of the AG who had suggested a composite floor test by way of which both Sasikala and OPS get a chance to test their strength on the floor of the house.
  • If the verdict is a split one and the judges differ on the conviction, the then matter is referred to a three judge bench. During the pendency of a decision it is the High Court's order of acquittal which would be in force. This means the governor cannot stop Sasikala from taking over as the CM.
  • In a split verdict if the judges agree on the conviction, but differ on the sentence, then Sasikala stands convicted as per the order of the trial court. This would bar her from taking over as CM and the governor need not invite her.
  • If the SC decides to refer the matter back to the high court, then Sasikala will have to be invited to form the government or take a floor test. This is because the order of acquittal by the High Court will be in force and hence the governor cannot stop her from becoming the CM or take a floor test
  • If the verdict is a split one where the conviction is concerned then Sasikala can take over as the CM following a floor test. In this case the matter is referred to the three judge bench. If the three judge bench decides to convict her, then she will have to step down as the CM. The governor would then have to ask another leader to prove his strength on the floor of the house in case there are two claimants to the chair.

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