The much-awaited Madras High Court judgement on petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran has come as a split verdict. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee has upheld the Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker’s order disqualifying the MLAs, while Justice M Sundar struck it down. The matter will now be heard a fresh by the senior most judge after the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Banerjee has said that the third judge would hear the matter but did not list out the date.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had on January 23 last reserved its order on the petitions by the 18 MLAs challenging their disqualification by the assembly speaker under the anti-defection law.
As per the verdict, there won’t be any fresh by-polls until the judge delivers his/her verdict. Opposition DMK has been claiming that with the disqualification of the MLAs, the Palaniswami government had been reduced to a minority. Expressing disappointment, TTV Dhinakaran said “this verdict will give a few more months to this government (EPS-OPS). Because of this judgement, people of Tamil Nadu will support as they know the truth behind such verdict. CJI of Tamil Nadu has given a different verdict in a case pertaining Puducherry Assembly Speaker.” Dhinakaran also vowed to keep on “legal battle” and exuded confidence that MLAs will be with him.
The ruling AIADMK has a strength of 116 MLAs excluding the Speaker, but including S Karunaas (Mukkulathor Pulipadai), M Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi) and U Thaniyarasu (Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilaignar Peravai), who had won on the ruling party’s two leaves symbol in 2016 polls. While 18 MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran were disqualified, the DMK has 89 MLAs, its allies Congress 8 and the IUML one in the 234 member strong House.