The Madras High Court on Wednesday said it would hear the individual writ petitions filed by the 18 disqualified MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on October 9, The Hindu reported. The court also said that an interim order, which stops them from conducting elections to their constituencies and a trust vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, would continue until further notice.

The 18 MLAs were disqualified by Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal on September 18, after they backed ousted AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran. Dhanapal took the action under the 1986 Tamil Nadu Assembly Members Party Defection law.

On Wednesday, Justice K Ravichandrabaabu deferred the hearing after counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was appearing for some of the MLAs, asked for more time to complete his arguments. After Singhvi’s submissions, counsel Aryama Sundaram appearing for Dhanapal, and Mukul Rohatgi, representing the AIADMK whip who lodged a complaint against the 18 MLAs, would reply.

Earlier in the day, the Madras High Court issued a notice to Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal, asking him why no action had been taken against 12 MLAs, including Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, for defying the party whip ahead of the Assembly trust vote in February.

The Tamil Nadu power tussle

Since the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in December 2016, the ruling AIADMK has been all about splits and mergers. In February, former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had rebelled against the party’s decision to make VK Sasikala the AIADMK general secretary and then the chief minister. When Sasikala was sent to jail in a disproportionate assets case, she had made Edappadi K Palaniswami the leader of the government.

But in August, Palaniswami tied up with Panneerselvam to oust the jailed leader from the post of party general secretary. Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, was also ousted as the deputy general secretary. He then garnered the support of 18 legislators to challenge the government in the Assembly.