The Madras High Court on Thursday delivered a split verdict in the case regarding the disqualification of 18 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislators. While Chief Justice Indira Banerjee upheld the disqualification, Justice M Sundar disagreed, The News Minute reported.
The matter will now be heard by a third judge. The third judge will not be chosen by the chief justice as she has herself heard the matter, but by the second most senior judge, Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh.
In September 2017, Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified 18 MLAs of the AIADMK who backed ousted party Deputy General Secretary TTV Dinakaran. Dhanapal took the action under the 1986 Tamil Nadu Assembly Members Party Defection law.
Their disqualification brought down the Assembly’s effective strength to 215, thereby reducing the total number of MLAs required for the majority to 108. If the MLAs are reinstated, the ruling AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam could collapse.
The 18 MLAs are now supporting TTV Dinakaran, who has formed his own political outfit, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam. He won the RK Nagar bye-elections in December by a huge margin.
“Only God knows how the same judge [Madras High Court chief justice] delivers contradicting verdicts on two similar cases [disqualification of 18 MLAs in TN and disqualification of three MLAs in Puducherry],” said Dinakaran, according to The Indian Express.
There has been constant political bickering in the state after AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa died in December 2016. In February 2017, 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 gripped the state. A trust vote was held for MLAs to choose between the AIADMK factions, and Sasikala’s nominee Palaniswami won. The DMK was evicted from the House during the vote, which ensured an easy win for Palaniswami.