The Madras High Court on Friday reserved order on a petition challenging the Tamil Nadu Speaker’s decision to disqualify 18 MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dinakaran, Bar and Bench reported.

The Supreme Court had appointed Justice M Sathyanarayanan after a split verdict by a division bench on June 14. It had also refused to transfer the case out of the High Court.

During a hearing on August 16, a senior counsel for the legislators said dissenting against a party leader neither amounts to surrendering the party membership nor should lead to disqualification from the Assembly. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, however, justified the party chief whip’s decision to recommend disqualification because the legislators had acted against the party’s decision. The state government told the court in one of the hearings that the MLAs were disqualified because they committed political impropriety by meeting Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit.

In September 2017, Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs after they supported Dinakaran. Their disqualification brought the Assembly’s effective strength down to 215 and the half-way mark to 108. If the legislators are reinstated, the ruling AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam may collapse.