Re­lief for TN govt, HC split on 18 MLAs

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION | POLITICS POLICY -

Chennai: In a huge re­lief to the AIADMK gov­ern­ment, the Madras high court to­day gave a split ver­dict on pe­ti­tions chal­leng­ing the disqual­i­fi­ca­tion of 18 MLAs loyal to side­lined party leader TTV Dhi­nakaran, a rul­ing that would main­tain sta­tus quo in Tamil Nadu.

A division bench of Chief Jus­tice Indira Ban­er­jee and Jus­tice M Sun­dar de­liv­ered di­ver­gent verdicts on whether the 18 MLAs de­served to be dis­qual­i­fied un­der the anti-de­fec­tion law by Speaker P Dhana­pal on Septem­ber 18 last year for ap­proach­ing the gov­er­nor and seek­ing the re­moval of chief min­is­ter K Palaniswami.

The court ruled that the se­nior-most judge af­ter the chief jus­tice would now hand-pick a judge who will hear the mat­ter afresh.

In her 200-page or­der, the chief jus­tice up­held the Speaker’s de­ci­sion, say­ing “In my opin­ion, the view taken by the Speaker is a pos­si­ble, if not plau­si­ble view, and I am un­able to hold that the said de­ci­sion is any way un­rea­son­able, ir­ra­tional or per­verse.”

Jus­tice Sun­dar, in his 135-page or­der, struck a dis­sent­ing note, in­sist­ing that Dhana­pal’s or­der “de­served to be set aside on grounds of per­ver­sity, non-com­pli­ance with prin­ci­ples of nat­u­ral jus­tice, mala fides and vi­o­la­tion of the con­sti­tu­tional man­date”.

The chief jus­tice said sta­tus quo would con­tinue till the third judge de­liv­ered the ver­dict on the pe­ti­tions.

To­day’s ver­dict came as a mas­sive re­lief for the Palaniswami gov­ern­ment as the restora­tion of the mem­ber­ship of the MLAs could have brought it per­ilously close to los­ing ma­jor­ity in the event of their join­ing hands with the op­po­si­tion DMK-Congress-IUML al­liance, which to­gether has 98 MLAs in the 234-mem­ber as­sem­bly.

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