Relief for TN govt, HC split on 18 MLAs
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.