The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to transfer the case of the disqualification of 18 Tamil Nadu MLAs out of the Madras High Court, ANI reported.

The legislators, belonging to Tamil Nadu’s ruling party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had sought to transfer their case from the Madras High Court to the Supreme Court after the lower court delivered a split verdict.

A vacation bench of Supreme Court Justices Arun Mishra and S K Kaul, however, assigned a new judge, Justice M Satyanarayana, to the case.

The Madras High Court had on June 18 appointed Justice S Vimala to hear the pleas against the disqualification of the rebel MLAs after two judges gave a split verdict on June 14. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee had upheld the disqualification, while Justice M Sundar disagreed.

In September 2017, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified 18 MLAs of the AIADMK after they supported ousted party leader TTV Dhinakaran. Their disqualification brought the Assembly’s effective strength down to 215 and the half-way mark to 108. If the MLAs are reinstated, the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami could collapse.

The 18 MLAs are now supporting Dhinakaran, who has formed his own political outfit, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam. He had won the RK Nagar bye-elections in December, necessitated by the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, by a huge margin.

There has been constant political bickering in the state after AIADMK chief 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. The DMK was evicted from the House during the vote, which ensured an easy win for Palaniswami. However, Palaniswami later switched sides and joined hands with the Panneerselvam faction.