Attorney General KK Venugopal on Friday recused himself from the Supreme Court hearing on the February 18 trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, PTI reported.

K Pandiarajan, an MLA from the O Panneerselvam faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had moved the top court to have the floor test result quashed. On July 5, the bench had agreed to hear the plea and asked Venugopal to be present during the hearing.

However, the attorney general, who took over the post on July 3, said it would not be appropriate for him to assist in the case as he had provided Panneerselvam with his legal opinion on the matter.

Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had won the floor test

The Supreme Court bench, comprising justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar, has now asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to assist in the matter. The next hearing is scheduled for July 11.

The petition

Pandiarajan had alleged that some MLAs belonging to the OPS group had been under “virtual house arrest” at a beach resort before the trust vote. “Their affirmative vote was obtained under the threat of force, fraud and coercion,” the legislator had claimed, further alleging that the Speaker had rejected requests for a secret ballot without providing a reason.

Tamil Nadu has been in a state of politicial tumoil since February, after Panneerselvam rebelled against VK Sasikala and quit as the chief minister, a post he had taken over after J Jayalalithaa’s death. The Tamil Nadu Assembly had held a trust vote, during which MLAs had to choose between two AIADMK factions, with Sasikala’s nominee Palaniswami emerging the winner.

Legislators of Opposition party DMK had been removed 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 in December 2016.