The 18 MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam loyal to Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dinakaran were disqualified last year because they committed political impropriety by meeting Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, counsel for Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami told the Madras High Court on Tuesday, PTI reported.

“Their action has caused disrespect to the AIADMK, which could erode the confidence and trust of the public in the party,” senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan said in a submission during a hearing before a Supreme Court-appointed third judge in the disqualification case. The top court had appointed the judge after a split verdict by a division bench.

The MLAs’ disqualification brought the state Assembly’s effective strength down to 215, thereby reducing the total number of MLAs required for a majority to 108. If the MLAs are reinstated, the ruling AIADMK government headed by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam could collapse.

Vaidyanathan said the MLAs, by showing dissent against the party and the chief minister, had also compromised their political morality. He also dismissed the petitioners’ contention that the original AIADMK party did not exist at the time they met the governor, saying that they had not made any such submission to the court.

Vaidyanathan pointed out that the MLAs themselves referred to their party as the real AIADMK in many instances. Justice Sathyanarayanan then adjourned the hearing for Wednesday.