NO FLOOR TEST TILL SEPTEM­BER 20: HC

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CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thurs­day or­dered that no floor test would be con­ducted in the Tamil Nadu Assem­bly till Septem­ber 20.

Jus­tice M Du­raiswami passed the in­terim or­der on pe­ti­tions by DMK work­ing pres­i­dent M K Stalin and MLA P Vetrivel, a staunch loy­al­ist of ousted AIADMK leader TTV Dhi­nakaran.

Cit­ing pend­ing dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ceed­ings against 19 MLAS loyal to Dhinkaran in view of their re­bel­lion against Chief Min­is­ter K Palaniswami, the pe­ti­tion­ers sub­mit­ted that they ap­pre­hended the Speaker might dis­qual­ify the leg­is­la­tors.

This may go in favour of the chief min­is­ter in case of a floor test to prove his ma­jor­ity, they con­tended.

Stalin, in his pe­ti­tion, had sought a di­rec­tion to the Gover­nor to or­der a floor test for the Palaniswami gov­ern­ment, claim­ing that it had lost is ma­jor­ity in view of the 19 MLAS ex­press­ing their lack of con­fi­dence in the chief min­is­ter. Vetrivel, who filed an im­plead­ing pe­ti­tion, sub­mit­ted he had ap­pre­hen­sion that he might be dis­qual­i­fied by the Speaker dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings ini­ti­ated on a prayer by the gov­ern­ment Chief Whip.

Af­ter the whip sought dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the 19 MLAS un­der the anti-de­fec­tion law, the Speaker had is­sued no­tices to them seek­ing their re­sponse, the time limit for which ended on Thurs­day.

Ear­lier, state Ad­vo­cate Gen- eral Vi­jay Narayan in­formed the judge that the con­sti­tu­tional process by the Speaker had started and the court could not pass or­ders based on ap­pre­hen­sions of the pe­ti­tion­ers.

Narayan stated this in re­sponse to a di­rec­tive by the judge ear­lier in the day ask­ing him to as­cer­tain from the Speaker whether he in­tended to pass any or­der on the mat­ter.

Se­nior coun­sel Kapil Sibal, ap­pear­ing for Stalin, sub­mit­ted that the Speaker might pass an or­der dis­qual­i­fy­ing the 19 MLAS and might con­duct the floor test on even Sun­day so that they would not have time to ap­proach courts for re­lief.

He said at least 48 hours of time should be given be­fore a floor test. The Speaker’s coun­sel sub­mit­ted the court can­not in­ter­fere in the process of a con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity such as the Speaker.

Once the con­sti­tu­tional process was over and if any or­der was passed, then a ju­di­cial review would al­ways be avail­able to the ag­grieved par­ties, he sub­mit­ted.

The court can­not act based on ap­pre­hen­sions and ex­pect the Speaker to re­ply whether he was go­ing to take a de­ci­sion to­day or to­mor­row, he said.

Sibal ar­gued that even is­su­ing priv­i­lege no­tices to 21 DMK MLAS over their ac­tion in dis­play­ing banned ‘gutkha’ in the assem­bly had been done only with the malafide in­ten­tion to save the gov­ern­ment.

The MLAS have re­volted against Palaniswami af­ter the merger of party fac­tions led by him and deputy chief min­is­ter O Pan­neer­sel­vam on Au­gust 21. In his pe­ti­tion, Stalin also wanted the floor test to be held un­der the su­per­vi­sion of an in­de­pen­dent ob­server ap­pointed by the high court.

Stalin, the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in the assem­bly, sought a di­rec­tion to the chief min­is­ter, re­strain­ing him from tak­ing any ma­jor pol­icy de­ci­sion, pend­ing the dis­posal of his pe­ti­tion. Be­sides the with­drawal of sup­port by the 19 MLAS, the 98 MLAS of the DMK and its al­lies in the op­po­si­tion had ex­pressed their “un­equiv­o­cal no-con­fi­dence” in the gov­ern­ment, it said.

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