Madras High Court upholds the 2017 disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs by speaker

The MLAs were disqualified by the speaker in 2017 after they declared support for rebel leader TTV Dinakaran

The Madras High Court has upheld the Tamil Nadu speaker’s decision to disqualify 18 MLAs in 2017

Earlier in September 2017, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal had disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs after they announced their support for rebel AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, under the 1986 Tamil Nadu Assembly Members Party Defection Law. This announcement had stirs red up a massive political crisis in the state, following which, the lawmakers then met the then governor C Vidyasagar Rao, asking for the removal of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, expressing no confidence in him.

Alleging mala fide intentions by the Speaker, the MLAs had moved the Madras High Court, which led to a split verdict by Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar on 14 June.

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As the matter was further transferred to the apex court, the Supreme Court had then named Justice Sathyanarayanan, who refused to take the case up to the SC. After 12 days of hearing, he reserved his orders until August 31.

The E K Palaniswami-led government has finally been given an answer regarding the matter today, as the Madras High Court upheld the Tamil Nadu Speaker’s decision to finally disqualify the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs. The rebels who were supporting the Sasikala-Dhinakaran faction were disqualified by P Dhanapal, the Speaker of the House, under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution (known as the anti-defection law) after they expressed lack of confidence in Chief Minister E Palaniswami.

Tamil Nadu Law Minister CV Shanmugham hailed the verdict and said, “It’s a victory for our party and a lesson for criminals.”

On the other hand, bravely facing the verdict, Dinakaran asserted that it has been an “experience”, refusing to term it a “setback.” He said, “The court judgment is not going to deter us. We will face the future with more force. The verdict will unite the party and MLAs even closer together.”

Two seats are now vacant in the 234-member Assembly, including that of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi. The current strength of the Tamil Nadu Assembly is 216. While AIADMK has 116 MLAs, including the Speaker, while the Opposition has 98 MLAs. Though by-polls will be held, the Palaniswamy government still holds a majority in the assembly.

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