The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the disqualification proceedings against two All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs from Tamil Nadu, PTI reported.

Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal had on April 30 served notices to A Prabhu, VT Kalaiselvan and E Rathinasabapathy for allegedly switching sides and pledging their support to TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.

Virudhachalam MLA Kalaiselvan and Aranthangi’s Rathinasabapathy had approached the top court after they were served notices under the anti-defection law for allegedly indulging in “anti-party” activities.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta also issued notices on the petitions. “Notice. Stay of proceedings,” the court was quoted as saying.

In September 2017, Dhanapal had disqualified 18 AIADMK MLAs after they pledged their support to Dhinakaran. In the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK now has a strength of 113, excluding the Speaker. The DMK and its allies, including Congress, have 97 MLAs. The simple majority mark in the full House is 118, but there are 22 vacancies presently, for which bye-polls are being held. Eighteen Assembly seats went for bye-polls on April 18 and the remaining four will go to polls on May 19.

Opposition parties like Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have opposed any possible disqualification of the three MLAs. The DMK had called Dhanapal’s move “murder of democracy” and submitted a resolution seeking his removal from the Speaker’s post.

Dhinakaran’s aide Thanga Tamilselvan called it a panic reaction of the AIADMK as the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections in the state is imminent. “They have lost all hope, and hence resorting to this,” Tamilselvan had said last week.

“The Speaker is once again misusing the powers vested with him,” he had said. “The disqualification of 18 MLAs in 2017 itself was an unethical move and a murder of democracy. Now, he is proceeding on the same path. This clearly shows how rattled is the AIADMK leadership about facing a whitewash in the Lok Sabha polls and the Assembly bye-polls.”