The Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition that sought to examine the February 18 floor test won by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in February this year. The plea, filed by legislator K Pandiarajan, will be heard on July 11.
The apex court bench also sought the help of newly-appointed Attorney General KK Venugopal in the case and asked him to be present in the court when the matter is heard.
In March this year, Pandiarajan, who is affiliated with Palaniswami’s rival O Panneerselvam’s faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash the trust vote. He had alleged that while passing the resolution, the principles of “secrecy, free and fair elections” had been violated, The Times of India reported.
Pandiarajan alleged that the Speaker had rejected several requests of conducting a secret ballot without providing a reason, The Hindu reported. There had also been reports that some MLAs belonging to Panneerselvam’s group had been under “virtual house arrest” when they were taken away to stay at a beach resort, and that their “affirmative vote was obtained under the threat of force, fraud and coercion”, the petition further said.
“The proceedings were conducted in a highly arbitrary and partisan manner and in utter violation of democratic norms and principles of natural justice forms the basis of his petition,” the petition read.
The Palaniswami faction is also facing allegations of a cash-for-vote scam. A sting operation carried by a news channel saw AIADMK MLA Saravanan admitting to being offered between Rs 2 crore and Rs 6 crore for his support to Palaniswami.
In-fighting since Jayalalithaa’s death
In February, after O Panneerselvam had rebelled against VK Sasikala and quit as chief minister and the latter was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, high drama had prevailed in the state. A trust vote had been held for MLAs to choose between the AIADMK factions, and Sasikala’s nominee Palaniswami had won. The DMK had been evicted from the House during the vote, which ensured an easy win for Palaniswami. The state has witnessed much in-fighting after AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa died last December.