The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal’s decision to disqualify 18 MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran. The court had reserved its verdict on August 31.
The legislators were disqualified in September 2017 after they supported Dhinakaran. This brought the Assembly’s effective strength down to 215 and the half-way mark to 108. With this verdict, there is no current threat to the government of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. The government may have collapsed had the court reinstated the MLAs.
12.26 pm: Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami welcomes the verdict. “Even if bye-polls are announced for the 18 Assembly seats, Amma’s government will win all of them; rest of the things the Election Commission has to decide,” he says.
12.13 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the principal Opposition party, says there is an urgent need for bye-elections in the 20 constituencies.
12.10 pm: Bye-elections now need to be held in 20 constituencies. Besides the constituencies of the disqualified MLAs, the Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundram seats fell vacant after the death of DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK’s AK Bose.
AIADMK spokesperson P Valarmathi tells PTI that the party will emerge victorious in all the seats. “We are very happy...this is a just order,” she says.
12.05 pm: While the verdict appears to be in consonance with Chief Justice Indira Banerjee’s decision in June, Justice Sathyanarayanan said he did not go by the views of either judge, reports Bar and Bench.
12 pm: AIADMK supporters in Chennai celebrate the court’s verdict.
11.36 am: “This is a victory for dharma and a slap in the face of traitors and cheaters,” says Deputy Speaker V Jayaraman. “Even if an appeal is filed, we are sure that truth only will win.”
11.29 am: AIADMK legislators are on their way to the residence of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to congratulate him.
11.13 am: In his verdict, Justice Sathyanarayanan said there was no infirmity in the Speaker’s order, reports The Indian Express. “All the material that were available at the time of passing of the order by the Speaker alone have been taken into consideration and this court cannot go into the subsequent events,” he observed.
10.50 am: TTV Dinakaran says this verdict is not a setback. “This is an experience, we will face the situation,” he adds. “Future course of action will be decided after meeting with the 18 MLAs.”
10.45 am: Democracy won, correct lesson for the traitors, tweets AIADMK.
10.40 am: The High Court upholds the Speaker’s decision to disqualify the legislators.
10.30 am: Justice M Sathyanarayanan enters the courtroom and begins signing the judgement.
10.20 am: However, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, justified the party chief whip’s decision to recommend disqualification because the legislators had acted against the party’s decision.
10.15 am: A recap of the proceedings till now. During the 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 it lead to disqualification from the Assembly.
10.08 am: The 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 –
the government will need the support of 117 legislators to cross the halfway mark of 116 and will fall short by at least five MLAs, The Indian Express reports.
10.06 am: In the June 14 verdict, Chief Justice Indira Banerjee had said she found no reason to interfere in the Speaker’s decision, Justice M Sundar found the disqualification to be against principles of natural justice. Justice S Vimala was initially chosen as the third judge, but after one of the legislators went to the Supreme Court, the top court chose Justice M Sathyanarayana.
10.04 am: Justice M Sathyanarayanan, who was appointed by the Supreme Court after a division bench of the High Court returned a split verdict on June 14, will pronounce the judgement.
10 am: The Madras High Court is set to rule on Speaker P Dhanapal’s decision to disqualify 18 MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam who are loyal to sidelined leader TTV Dinakaran in September 2017. The judgement is expected at 10.30 am.